Today I welcome author, painter and sculptor Uvi Poznansky.
VH: At what age were you the happiest? What triggered such joy?
Uvi: The happiest memory I have is from my childhood, playing on the beach with wet sand. This memory is vivid in my mind, to the point that I let Ben, the character in my novel Apart From Love, borrow it from me:
“I figure I must have visited them a long time ago, as a child. My hands still keep the memory, the touch of wet sand, and the sequence of scooping it, packing it tightly into a bucket, turning it upside down, away from the wave rolling in, then lifting the bucket away to see a castle take shape.”
The joy of creation, building castles and sculptures on the beach, is something I remember as a perfect moment, a moment when I am one with the elements: the warmth of the sand, the glow of sunshine, and the playful glint of the waves. Every time I create something, be it painting, sculpture, animation, poem or prose, I go back in my mind to that joy, and I am a child again.
“I spot a beam of sunlight caught, somehow, by a grain of sand. It is shining there, as if through a diamond. Under that sparkle, protected from the surge by a jagged wall of rocks, is the pool: the tide pool, in which I used to splash my feet a long time ago, when I visited here as a child, with him. Dazed by the sight, and by the visions it brings out, in layer after layer of memories, I open my mouth and close it again, like a fish out of water.”
VH: When was the last time you helped someone? I mean really helped someone. What did you do for this person? Were they grateful or did they resent your help?
Uvi: When my father turned seventy, his wife and my brother left him and moved to another place. Being eager to put down the old man, my brother missed no opportunity to quarrel with him, mock his frailty, and even spread rumors about his mental state. Trying to come to my father’s rescue put me often in the ‘line of fire‘--placing me as the outsider in the family, opposite my brother. There, I never expected any emotional satisfaction, quite the opposite.
After my father’s death, it took time until I could put things in perspective. And the way I did it was through the power of the pen, and the joy of creation. I wrote a series of short stories around the biblical story of Jacob as a young man, trying to fool his old father. I chose to tell the story in Jacob’s voice, as a way to put myself in my brother’s skin. Here he is, putting on his disguise, getting ready for the last moment he is going to spend with the old man.
“After that, my mother attends to the cooking. I can hear the hiss, the slight hiss of the pot as it comes to a boil. I can smell the aroma. Somewhat bland to my taste; but then again, this is the way my father likes his meat. At any rate, he can barely swallow food nowadays.
She ladles a steaming hot portion onto a platter and sets it upon a large tray, so I can carry it over there, to his bedside. Then she gives me the slightest of hints. It is all set up. The time is now.
My arm covered with the hide of a kid, I stand up. Pretending to be that which I am not, I am ready, at long last, to do her bidding. Ready for my defining moment with my father: The old man is on his deathbed. He is waiting for me. Waiting there, in his tent, for his trusty, favorite son.”
VH: After a difficult day what do you do to recuperate? Does it work?
Uvi: After a tough day I take a deep breath--literally--and go out for a walk around town, with my loved one. It is a four mile walk, and we stroll rather leisurely, taking in the evening air, the hustle-bustle of city life, and the beautiful view of the beach from afar.
If we are in a good mood, this works like a charm. We hold hands and tell each other about the events of the day. But even if not, it gives us an opportunity to talk, and to iron out the kinks between us. We have been doing this evening walk every evening, in cold weather and hot, wherever fate happened to find us. So does it work? You judge... We’ve been together for thirty-some years.
VH: I think it works. Thank you Uvi.
Written with passionate conviction, this story is being told by two of its characters: Ben, a twenty-seven years old student, and Anita, a plain-spoken, spunky, uneducated redhead, freshly married to Lenny, his aging father. Behind his back, Ben and Anita find themselves increasingly drawn to each other. They take turns using an old tape recorder to express their most intimate thoughts, not realizing at first that their voices are being captured by him.
Meanwhile, Lenny is trying to keep a secret from both of them: his ex-wife, Ben's mother, a talented pianist, has been stricken with an early-onset alzheimer. Taking care of her gradually weighs him down. What emerges in these characters is a struggle, a desperate, daring struggle to find a path out of conflicts, out of isolation, from guilt to forgiveness.
The title Apart From Love comes from a phrase used in the story:
After a while I whispered, like, "Just say something to me. Anything." And I thought, Any other word apart from Love, 'cause that word is diluted, and no one knows what it really means, anyway.
Anita to Lenny, in Apart From Love
Why, why can't you say nothing? Say any word--but that one, 'cause you don't really mean it. Nobody does. Say anything, apart from Love.
Anita to Ben, in The Entertainer
For my own sake I should have been much more careful. Now--even in her absence--I find myself in her hands, which feels strange to me. I am surrounded--and at the same time, isolated. I am alone. I am apart from Love.
Ben, in Nothing Surrendered
Barnes and Noble Paperback
Uvi earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and practiced with an innovative Architectural firm. She received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. There, she earned her M.A. in Architecture.
Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. During the years she spent in advancing her career—first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices)—she wrote and painted constantly.
Her versatile body of work can be seen online at uviart.com. It includes poetry in English and Hebrew, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media. Uvi has published a poetry book and two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper, both of which she animated. The animations can be found on her author page on Amazon. Apart From Love is her debut novel.