Bustan — Poetry Incubator

About the Program

Bustan fosters connections between writers of different communities in Israel and invites them to grow and develop as poets.

Poets who write in Arabic or in Hebrew are invited to partake in a program that combines time for uninterrupted writing with opportunities for learning, skill building and professional development. The Library's richly diverse collections provide an ideal seedbed for cultivating creative work as well as for nurturing collaboration.

"Let future Bustan fellows know that one of the program's goals is to fill us with energy and enrich us with new resources for creative work."

"New worlds were revealed, hitherto unknown. This was precious. A profound, meaningful experience that alters one's worldview."


Call for Applications

The National Library of Israel invites poets who write in Hebrew or Arabic to apply for Bustan's 4th cohort (2020).


Eligible candidates are poets who have published at least one book of poetry in either Arabic and/or Hebrew during the past seven years.

Program Elements

An orientation day at the National Library

Three-day introductory retreat in a relaxed setting outside the Library. (July 6-8, 2020)

Four week program of learning and writing at the NLI. (July 12 – August 6, 2020). During the program fellows will devote their time to creative writing and engage in an inspiring, skills-enhancing program.  Program elements include: peer leaning sessions, poetry editing and translation workshops, encounters with inspiring artists, publishers and editors and opportunities to explore the special collections of the National Library.

Cultural and educational programs at the Library.

* Participants must commit to fully partake in all the program's elements

Participants will receive a one-time scholarship of 10,000 NIS and accommodations in Jerusalem for the duration of the residency.

Application for the program is over.

Collection of fellows' literary works in a bi-lingual anthology.

View all regulations

Please send 5 copies of your book to:

Efrat Waksman, Bustan Program
The National Library of Israel
Edmond J. Safra Campus, Givat Ram POB 39105 Jerusalem, 9139002.

Your package must be postmarked no later than March 1st 2020.


Application deadline: February 29, 2020.

Fill Application Form

Third cohort

Bustan Fellows - Third cohort

Saad Abu Ghanam


Saad was born in Kuseife, a Bedouin town in the south of Israel, in 1977. He holds a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies, teaches History and Arabic at Abu Wadi school in Kuseife, and leads creative writing workshops for children and educators. Saad’s collection of poems, Yellow Evening, was published in Egypt in 2015. Some of his poems, written in Hebrew, were also published in Haaretz. Saad is married and the father of seven.

Moshe Ohaion


Poet, teacher and musician, Moshe lives and creates in the southern city Dimona. Moshe leads creative writing workshops for children and adults. He is the author of three poetry collections: Sand and Lemons (2006), Forty Above Ground (2010), and Sole Playing (2015), and has released five music albums featuring songs he wrote, composed, and performed. Moshe studied for his master's degree at Ben Gurion University, Department of Hebrew Literature. In 2016 Moshe received Ben Gurion’s Alumni Recognition Award, in acknowledgment of his unique contribution to society and culture. He is also the recipient of the 2013 Prime Minister's Prize for Hebrew Writers.

Avigail Antman

Poet, literature teacher, and educator. Avigail grew up in Jerusalem, where she still resides with her spouse and three children. She holds a master's degree, cum laude, in Creative Writing from Ben Gurion University.  Avigail is a member of Kolech, Religious Women’s Forum, and a board member of Women of the Wall. Ancient Jewish scriptures reverberate throughout her first poetry book, In my Future Life (2014).

Wisam Gibran


Born in Nazareth.  Poet and musician, a violinist and Oud player, a prolific composer, and the founder of the Gibran Academy of Music and Arts in Nazareth, Wisam is the author of numerous musical pieces, including an opera, a symphony, chamber works, music for theater and film, a large body of electro-acoustic compositions, and more. He has published three poetry books: Affili-ANTI-ation (1998), Tarantula (2003), with a preface by the poet and Nobel Prize Laureate Adonis, and No Time (2018). He is the recipient of the 2004Prime Minister's Prize for Composers.

Amir Menasheof

Poet, editor, and teacher, Amir lives and creates in Jerusalem. He has published two poetry collections: Ra'ash, Ra'ash, Ra'ash, Ra'ash (2011) and Stand! (2016). Amir leads creative writing workshops and is a spoken word artist, an entrepreneur, and producer of poetry events and festivals. He is among the editors of the literary periodical, Eyruvin, and formerly, the publisher of the independent poetry magazine, Nefetz.

Wafaa Fadel

Poet and writer, born and raised in Haifa, Wafaa now lives and creates in Jaffa. Wafaa pens modern poetry and very short stories. She received her BA in Special Education from Oranim Academic College of Education. Wafaa is a certified moderator for Movement and Music Activities to Promote Development and holds a master's degree in Art Therapy from the Kibbutzim College. Wafaa often partakes in poetry festivals, and her poems have been published in various poetry platforms and translated into Hebrew, English, and Italian, among other languages. Her first collection of poems, The Entrance of Heaven in the Month of Eid, was published in 2010.


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A tour of the National Library, Orientation day, June 11, 2019

Reception for Bustan fellows, July 9, 2019

Marzuq al-Halabi, Almog Behar, Amir Menasheof and Wisam Gibran at the translation workshop, July 2019

The Bustan retreat at Amirei Hagalil, July 3, 2019

Portrait sculpture workshop, Bustan retreat at Amirim, July 2, 2019

A tour of Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood, July 29, 2019

Second cohort

Bustan Fellows - Second cohort

Saleh Taha Aboud


Holds a Ph. D. in Arabic Language and Literature from Haifa University. His teaching and research focus on Shi'i literature, Islamic literature, Arab and Islamic contemporary thought and education, Arabic language, and history of the Middle East. Aboud has lectured at Tel Aviv University, Emek Yezreel College, and the Arab Academic College of Education in Haifa. His second collection of poems, My Rebab (musical instrument) Plays Me a Piece of Paper, was published in 2017. He lives with his wife and 6 children in Eilout, near Nazareth.

Yaakov Biton


Grew up with his grandmother. He is the author of three volumes of poetry, the last of which, My Sister in Glow, was published in 2018. Biton is Johnathan Soen's student.

Firdaws Habib Allah

From Ein Mahel, graduated from Haifa University with a degree in Comparative and Hebrew Literature. She teaches Hebrew in Ein Mahel high school, but gave up her position as high school principal in order to devote her time to writing poetry. In recent years Habib Allah has published three volumes of poetry and participated in numerous literary events and festivals. She is also a human rights activist.

Sivan Har-Shefi


Grew up in Efrat and studied in Jerusalem. She holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature from Bar-Ilan University, and teaches literature and creative writing. Har-Shefi is one of the founders of the "Zohar Chai" Beit Midrash. She is the author of four books of poetry – Levithan's Exile (2005), Psalm for a Day of Thunder (2010), Sun Which Ecclesiastes Knew Not (2014) and Zarqua (2018) – and the editor of the Atar Journal of literature and art. In 2012 Har-Shefi won the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol Prize for Literature. She lives with her husband and five children in Tekoa.

Batel Kolman

Born and raised in Jerusalem. She graduated from Bar-Ilan University with a dual degree in musicology and special education. Her first collection of poems, Grasping the Abyss (2015) won the Culture Minister's Prize for New Poets. She pens a weekly column for Makor Rishon and leads writing workshops in Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem. Kolman was recently appointed member of the Israeli Council of Culture and Art. She lives with her husband and two children in Sde Boaz.

Husam Massalha

Born in the village of Kafr Qara in Wadi Ara, where he still resides with his wife and four sons. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Goethe in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1992. Massalha also holds a master's degree in Policy and Public Administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Massalha has served as Deputy to the Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Jerusalem, but since his retirement in 2014 he focuses on writing poetry. In 2017 Massalha published his first poetry collection, The Sea and Me, and is currently preparing a second volume of his poems for publication. He is active in Jewish-Arab organizations for peace and democracy and associations serving the Palestinian people in Israel.

Maisa al-Sahh


From Arraba wrote poetry since childhood. She holds a master's degree in Arabic Language and teaches Arabic at an elementary school in her hometown. Al-Sahh has published three volumes of poetry as well as children's stories, and has participated in numerous literary events and festivals in Jordan and Egypt. In 2017 she won a Creativity award from the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Eran Tzelgov


A Hebrew poet, translator, editor and scholar. He is interested in cultural activism and sees literary works as social agents. His interests span translation and gender studies, postcolonial theory and contemporary Israeli poetry. He held teaching positions at Ben-Gurion University, the Open University in Israel, Minshar College of Art, NYU and Northwestern University. In 2012 Tzelgov founded the small independent publishing house "Ra'av". His 2013 collection of poems Bhirot was awarded the Israeli Ministry Of Culture and Sports Award for New and Upcoming Poets. In 2015 Tzelgov published a translation of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood (along with sketches), and his second volume of poems Also the Cat (2016) received the support of Mifal HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts.


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First cohort

Bustan Fellows - First Cohort

Muhammad Bakria


lives in Jerusalem. Bakria graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a dual degree in Arabic Language and Literature and Theatre Studies. An accomplished journalist for the past 20 years, he also writes poetry and short stories. Bakria submitted for consideration his second poetry collection, A Soul Carried by the Wind (Arabic, 2016).

Roi Bet Levi


was born in Ramat Gan to parents of South American descent. Educated in Buenos Aires and Ramat Hasharon, Bet Levi now resides in Tel Aviv. He has worked as a journalist and screenwriter and is currently head of communication activities at the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Studies. His novel Imagine a Mountain (Hebrew, 2014), which he submitted for consideration, won the New Literature Prize in Memory of Isaac and Tova Wiener.

Jawdat George Eid


is a writer, poet and academic from Nazareth. Eid earned his Doctorate of Education degree (Ed.D.) from the University of Derby in England in 2016. He also holds a master's degree in social work and a teaching certificate in psychology. Today he lectures in the fields of education, psychology and social sciences. Eid has published numerous children's books as well as collections of short stories, poetry and prose. He has won numerous prizes, grants and letters of recognition in the areas of literature, social work, and education. Eid submitted for consideration a poetry collection entitled, Virtual Space and Place (Arabic, 2014).

Jonathan Fine


is an author and translator based in Tel Aviv. Fine has published essays and literature reviews in Haaretz and Ynet. He is the recipient of the Harry Hershon Literature Prize from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The collection of short novels which he submitted for consideration, Honorably Discharged (Hebrew, 2013), is his first book. The book won the Culture Minister’s Literary Award for 2015.

Eytan Freier-Dror

was born in Jerusalem. Freier-Dror studied musicology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and composition at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. The Fingers on the Hill (Hebrew, 2015), his debut collection of three short novels, won the Sapir Prize for best new work in 2016. This is the book he submitted for consideration.

Yosef Ozer


was born in Jerusalem and grew up in northern Israel. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Ozer embraced a more religiously-inclined Jewish identity. He studied education and literature at the University of Haifa and worked as an educational director in ultra-orthodox Jewish education until resigning with profound discontent. Ozer is the author of several volumes of poetry, and twice the recipient of the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol Prize for Literature. Ozer submitted for consideration his collection of poems Jezreel Valley – Jerusalem (Hebrew, 2013).

Atheer Safa


of Baqa al-Gharbiyye holds a master's degree in Arabic Language and Literature from Tel Aviv University. She wrote her master's thesis on the philosophy of ugliness in modern Arab literature. Her work spans the fields of informal education, literary criticism, language editing and translation. In 2013, Safa received a writing grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC). She published her first novel Tweet (Arabic) in 2014, and submitted it for consideration. The novel was nominated for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.


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Contact Info

Efrat Waksman

Coordinator of Writers' Programs at the NLI


We wish to thank the supporters of Bustan:

The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Germanacos Foundation

Sally Gottesman