Tuesday, September 18, 2018


The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with the writers to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are speaking with Tehila Hakimi תהילה חכימי a poet and fiction writer from Israel.


1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

I plan to work on my first novel. I started working on it this year. It tells the story of an Israeli woman offered by the company she works for a position in its American branch. Tired of the political atmosphere in Israel and of life in a war-zone, she decides to accept the offer and leave for the US. Arriving alone at a small southeastern town, she spends her free time with her men colleagues and picks up a new hobby, soon to become her main passion: hunting. 

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

I am not sure if I have a specific writing routine, I use the time when I have it. I have a full time position as Program Manager in an International engineering company (In the car industry), so I try to write between work time: evenings, weekends and when traveling for work. I find it a perfect time for writing, as while traveling for work I have a lot of time alone, sometimes in isolated hotel rooms.

Writing Poetry is a bit different though, as I sometimes write at work, at my office, at my desk. If not a whole poem at least a draft of a poem to be.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

I think every book I read for pleasure might become research read in a way, currently I am reading three books: Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville; Karl Ove Knausgård's  - A Man in Love : My Struggle Book 2; and Anton Shammas's Arabesques, that tells the story of Shammas's family in the middle east, as well as his IWP experience back in the mid 80's. 

4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work?

So far I published a poetry book, a graphic novel and this November I will publish my first prose book: Company. As both a prose writer and a poet, as well as an engineer in my profession, I constantly move between the edges. It is a constant movement indeed: so that my work often deals with the topic of work, and, more specifically, with women who work in a masculine environment, asking how the feminine body both shapes and is shaped by this environment. as well as language and the way a story is told. 

As a woman writer, as well as a woman engineer, I am still surrounded by mostly men in positions of power. In a world where men still exert power over women, my work deals with the interconnectedness of power, work and loneliness.

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

I live in Tel Aviv with my Partner, Tomer.  we live one block away from where my late grandmother Rachel used to live. it brings back some memories, sometimes I see her in the old women in the neighborhood. Both my grandmothers had a tough life, immigrated from Iran and Morocco to Israel in the 50's and mid 50's. as i grow up I learn women in their generation where true revolutionaries even if not calling themselves feminists.

I come from a family of women, so I always say my father is a patriarch in a matriarch family, I have 3 sisters, one of them is my twin, Efrat.  


Thank you Tehlia!

Tehila will be reading with IWP resident Gina Cole at 4pm, this Sunday, Sept. 23rd at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City. Link

Tehila HAKIMI תהילה חכימי (poet, fiction writer; Israel) writes poetry, fiction and graphic novels. Her poetry volume מחר נעבוד [We’ll Work Tomorrow] (2014) received the 2015 Bernstein Prize for Literature, and, alongside her graphic novel במים [In the Water], the Yehoshua Rabinowitz Foundation Prize for Literature. Hakimi received the 2014 Israeli Ministry of Culture Prize for Emerging Poets. She works as a mechanical engineer. Her participation is made possible by the United States-Israel Educational Foundation.