“The distance from wakefulness to sleep”: on Liat Kaplan’s ‘Fantasy’

Rami Saari

A depiction of the desire to cease functioning completely in which the writer fantasizes tuning out, endangering her future poems and the current one as well.

The fantasy woven by Liat Kaplan at the opening of her book Shadow of a Bird is preceded by a poem called ‘The most beautiful thing in the world’, which ends with the words, “The most beautiful thing in the world is longing,/ the outlines of your sleep”. The distance from wakefulness to sleep and from fantasy to a dream are not the same as the gap between what exists in reality and what exists in one’s soul, for longing, yearning and desire are often no less substantial than that which is concrete and completely accessible: a door, a book or a water glass.

The private apartment about which Kaplan daydreams is symmetrical and creative on paper, but not so the components of the poem: not the length of the lines, the number of stanzas nor their scope. The symmetry the poet creates in the apartment is composed of three corners, a triangle made of I, I and I, but the individual I is not depicted as a significant presence despite being mentioned three times. This is a practically geometric I, without qualities and characteristics.

Kaplan’s poem of fantasy names many objects, but relates primarily to what does not happen, to what they do not do or what is not done to them. The desire expressed in the poem is the desire for privacy but also for a complete cessation, to do absolutely nothing, the possibility of total laziness. Is this laziness the result of too much effort and overwork? Or is this the inertia of complete inaction – laziness that breeds more laziness, staring into space and rest that, rather than recharge batteries, connects the earlier rest with the future one?

The poet ends her poem at the height of her fantasy: the opening of gates provides the opportunity to receive external stimulation and at the same time the possibility of rejecting it completely. In this sense, rest is first and foremost the opportunity to stop producing: “My hand will write nothing”. Between the hand of experience and the hand that writes, the borders of action must be maintained. Without them both experience, and writing about it, are not likely to materialize.

Poetry International Web
CATALAN POETRY translated by Saari to Hebrew
CATALAN PROSE translated by Saari to Hebrew
Rami Saari’s page

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