"When I was asked to pass on my archive to the National Library in Jerusalem for safekeeping, I found myself a bit scared because 'Archive' has always been tied with people who are no longer alive, but I liked that the Library approaches living writers such as David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua.
When I started collecting my materials in the boxes I received, I underwent a fascinating emotional process. I never thought about my materials in archival terms, and suddenly I had the opportunity to tidy them up: dream journals, poetry diaries, literary correspondence, recordings, photographs, etc., materials that floated around, gathering dust in various drawers and storerooms. I had to rifle through materials that hadn't been read from the moment they were written and I was wholly immersed in a journey of 'This Is Your Life.'
…I was filled with a feeling of Buddhist liberation that it is good not to be attached to things. It is good to give up, release and make room, as Fernando Pessoa writes in his poem 'From the Highest Window of my House' where he tells his works, 'Go, go from me!' And this is the National Library, where the materials will be kept for research and preservation. I was also reassured by the clause that I would be able to store materials until after I would be called to shuffle off the mortal coil, and that any reference or exhibiting of the materials would be in consultation with me."
Agi Mishol, leading poets in Israel today, joins other artists and authors who have given their archives to the National Library of Israel. Among them are David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua, and S.Y. Agnon.
Agi Mishol as a child
Mishol's archive contains manuscripts of her poems (published and unpublished), dream journals, translations of her work, reviews, and letters she received from various literary figures following the publication of her poetry books. The archive also contains material she used while working as a lecturer at various universities, as a facilitator of poetry workshops, and as the manager of the Israeli "Helicon School of Poetry." There are also unpublished manuscripts by people who were close to Mishol, like the author Yizhar Smilansky and the illustrator Naomi Smilansky.
Mishol's journals and personal materials will be shelved for several decades, but the archive including the drafts of manuscripts and a large part of Mishol's correspondences, will be accessible to students, researchers, and the general public both in the Library and online.
A page from one of Agi Mishol's dream journals
A page from one of Agi Mishol's poetry diaries
David Blumberg, Chairman of the National Library of Israel, said that the NLI plays a central role in the preservation of original Israeli creative writing. He promised that the archive, which joins hundreds of others, will receive the dedicated care befitting the archive of such an important and valued poet.
Israeli Poet Agi Mishol with Chairman of the Board of the National Library of Israel, David Blumberg (Photograph: Hanan Cohen)
Oren Weinberg, Director of the Library, said that Agi Mishol's archive arrives at a time when there are great challenges facing the world of modern archiving: How can work done on personal computers, including emails and digital drafts, be saved in a way that allows for the stages of creativity to be documented? He expressed hope that other writers and creators would follow in Mishol's footsteps and deliver their archives in their lifetime and take part in making them accessible.
Born in Transylvania in 1946, Agi Mishol is the daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors who came to Israel in 1950. Under her belt are 16 books of poetry, numerous awards, among them the Yehuda Amichai Prize and the Prime Minister's Prize for Hebrew Authors. She has received honorary doctorates from Tel Aviv University, the Weizmann Institute, and others. She finds inspiration for her work in her everyday life and her dream worlds, and writes poetry full of wonder, wisdom, humanism and humor.