October 20, 1947
Cehu Silvaniei, Romania
|Alma mater||Hebrew University of Jerusalem|
Agi Mishol (Hebrew: ; born October 20, 1947) is an Israeli poet. Considered by many to be one of Israel's most prominent and popular poets, Mishol's work has been published in several languages, and has won various awards including the Italian Lericipea award, the Israeli Prime Minister award and the Yehuda Amichai prize for literature.
Agi (Agnes) Fried (later Mishol) was born in Cehu Silvaniei, Transylvania, Romania, to Hungarian-speaking Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust. She was brought to Israel at the age of 4. Her parents ran a bicycle and electronics repair shop in Gedera, a small southern town. The family spoke mainly Hungarian at home. They lived in a small, one-room apartment in a housing project. Until she was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, Mishol slept on an armchair that opened into a bed. She began writing poetry at an early age, but did poorly in school. During her military service at the nuclear facility in Dimona, she began studying literature at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She was married briefly at 19 and a half. After her divorce she moved to Jerusalem and did her BA and MA degrees in Hebrew literature at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she attended a writing workshop given by Yehuda Amichai. In Jerusalem she met and married Giora Mishol, who was working for the Ministry of Absorption. They moved to Kfar Mordechai, a Moshav next to her hometown Gedera, where they grow peaches, persimmons and pomegranates. They have two children, Maya and Uri, seven cats and a dog.
Mishol was an educator and Hebrew literature teacher at Be'er Tuvia high school during the years 1976 to 2001. After retiring, she served as a senior lecturer at Alma College for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv between the years 2002 and 2008. In 2006 she was the artistic director of the International Poetry Festival, held in Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Jerusalem. From 2011 to this date she leads the Helicon School of Poetry in Tel Aviv, where she also leads creative writing workshops. Mishol has lectured and taught creative writing at Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem where she also served as Poet-in-Residence (2007).
Mishol is the author of 16 volumes of poetry. She self-published her first book, "Kodem Tafasti Rega," when she was 18 years old, but then recollected all copies in the bookshops and destroyed them. Her latest published book is "Mal'ach Hacheder" (Domestic Angel, Hakibutz Hameuhad). Her volume "Selected and New Poems" (2003, Hakibutz Hameuhad and Mosad Bialik) has sold over 13,000 copies to this date. Mishol's poems have been composed by various Israeli artists including Corinne Allal, Yehudit Ravitz and Ori Leshman, and adapted into theatrical works such as"Yanshufot" (Owls, 2004).
According to Haim Gouri, Agi Mishol has a broad poetic spectrum: "All flora and fauna near and far, varied and colorful landscapes, love and romance, powerful eroticism, revealing and concealing, being the only child of Holocaust survivors who personally experienced the worse...It is poetry filled with rich metaphors and ongoing observation of the human condition."
In his introduction to "Selected and New Poems", Prof. Dan Miron wrote: "Agi Mishol is a poet now standing at the height of her strength... Agi Mishol undoubtedly belongs to the great dynasty of female Hebrew poets - Rachel Bluwstein, Yocheved Bat-Miriam, Lea Goldberg, Dalia Rabikovitch and Yona Wallach.
In his book review in The New York Times of Look There (2006), Joel Brouwer wrote: "Mishol... takes up political subjects with a sly delicacy reminiscent of the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska's best work".
According to Amos Oz, "Agi Mishol's poems know how to tell a tale, to sing a song and also dance - all at one and the same time. I love the splendid surprises in them, the subtle and exact sadness, and the mysterious manner by which she makes this sadness overflow with hidden joy."
In 2006 Naomi Shihab Nye wrote: "Agi Mishol's poems feel perfectly weighted. Her mix of honest empathy and care and elegant wit is deeply touching and enlivening."
Mishol's poems have been translated to several languages and appear in dedicated volumes as well as in anthologies in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Polish, Chinese and other languages.