Young poet from Larkspur wins Israeli army contest

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Not long after making aliyah last year, Larkspur native Adam Sager visited the home of Israel's poet laureate Yehuda Amichai. The two have mutual friends, and Sager, 20 years old and a poet himself, wanted Amichai's feedback on his work.

"He really liked it," Sager recently reported from his Jerusalem apartment, where he was on a break from army duty. "He encouraged me to continue writing."

Amichai was clearly not just being polite. Sager, who now serves in an Israel Defense Force combat unit in the country's south, just won an armywide poetry contest. He netted first prize over hundreds of other writers, winning not just for one poem, but a collection of four that address the contest theme: Israel.

As his prize, Sager will get a week off from the army, to be spent in a Herzliya beach apartment in an artists' colony. There, he will have time away from the hustle of daily life and be able to do nothing but write. As a result of winning the contest, he has already read his poems and talked about his life on Israeli radio.

Interestingly, Sager's poems bear a striking resemblance to Amichai's work, relying on simple, profound imagery to convey deep yet restrained swells of emotion.

Too, just as Amichai writes often of his love for Jerusalem, Sager, in two of his winning poems, speaks of the city as one that draws him with its mysterious beauty and complicated history.

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.