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Poetry collection “The Dove That Didn’t Return” by Yael S. Hacohen provides insightful, moving perspective on faith, duty, and war from experiences in the Middle East conflict

Yael S. Hacohen, a former Israeli Defense Force Commander and current lecturer at Tel Aviv University, has released a collection of poetry that combines her military experience, Jewish heritage, and personal observations to create a beautiful, nuanced exploration of the human condition. Through work that touches on family, duty, warfare, compassion, history, hope, and beyond, Hacohen’s debut full-length collection is a new voice in the genre of “war poetry” that has long been dominated by male writers. 

Far from restricted to the confines of genre, the poetry in “The Dove That Didn’t Return” delves into the beauties and tragedies of life through the lens of a veteran, woman, and academic, and offers a hopeful message of peace through patience and understanding. 

During her time as an IDF Lieutenant, Hacohen developed a fascination with language.  Through military jargon, where common words and simple phrases can take on new meanings, she began to consider the power of words to impart meaning and evoke emotion. To process the challenging, sometimes troubling experiences of military life – and to explore a budding interest in the written word – Yael took to regular journaling, which then evolved into poetry and creative writing.

To pursue this passion for poetry after her military service, Yael went on to study writing at Tel Aviv University, earned an MFA in poetry from New York University, and completed her PhD in rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. During her time as a student, she was a New York University Veterans Workshop fellow and the international editor at Washington Square Literary Review.

With an established career as a brilliant poet, including features in New York Quarterly Magazine, Prairie Schooner, LIT, Colorado Review, and many others, as well as prestigious academic credentials, Yael provides guidance for the next generation of writers as a lecturer at Tel Aviv University and continues to craft heartfelt, moving pieces of poetry. Her poem “Amos 3:5” was the winner of the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, and her 2021 chapbook “Between Sanctity and Sand” (Finishing Line Press) was published to critical acclaim.

 The latest addition to her powerful body of work, the forthcoming, full-length collection “The Dove That Didn’t Return” is an exploration of human dichotomy, from the violence and tragedy of warfare to the tender moments of connection shared among individuals. 

The poems are imbued with a deep spirituality, and Dr. Hacohen sees her writing as a form of prayer. Inspired by wisdom from her grandfather, a major general in the IDF and practicing Jew, Yael embraces the through-line that weaves together heritage, service, tradition, and faith, and uses her writing to honor this multifaceted identity. Both specific to her personal experiences and filled with universal messages for readers of all backgrounds, the poems contained in “The Dove That Didn’t Return” are a moving tribute to humanity. 

Available on June 25, 2024 through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major retailers, Yael S. Hacohen’s full-length collection is a new milestone in her brilliant career, providing readers with insightful and thought-provoking reflections on the moments that give life meaning, the shared pain of war, and the essential values of compassion, love, and peace. 

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