The winner of the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Competition and the Esmé Bradberry Contemporary Poets Prize, Gilsdorf has been awarded a grant from the Vermont Arts Council (1999) and residencies at the Millay Colony (New York), the Hall Farm Center for Arts and Education (Vermon), the New Pacific Studio (New Zealand) and Vermont Studio Center (Vermont).
His poems can be seen in Poetry, The Southern Review, The North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Poetry London, plus anthologies like Future Welcome; Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry; Outsiders: Poems About Rebels, Exiles, and Renegades; Radio Waves: Poems Celebrating the Wireless; and In the Criminal's Cabinet. Gilsdorf was also the Paris regional coordinator for Poets For Peace/United Poets Coalition. He also serves on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Poetry Outreach Project (MassPop).
Ethan Gilsdorf was awarded a 2007 Fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council/Mass Cultural Council for a non-fiction book in progress.
"Icon" (warning: scary author photo)
A collaborative project with a fabric artist named Bean Gilsdorf
As today’s weapons of mass destruction go
the human bomb is cheap—
apart from a willing man, you need
only such items as nails, a battery,
gunpowder, a short cable, and a simple switch
you might use to flick on the light
above your sleeping child. Total cost:
150 dollars. Less expensive than
the bus ride to a distant Israeli city.
Those who we turn away return again
and again, pestering us, pleading
to be accepted. We ask the young men why
they wish so badly to become
human bombs. To cause additional deaths,
we ask, Can you wait, not flinching,
for your fellow cell member,
before exploding yourself?
They become intimately familiar
with what they are about to do—
then they can greet death like an old friend.
Fear? Fear derives from fervent desire for success.
Don’t refer to their deeds as
“suicide”— which is forbidden in our religion—
“sacred explosions” is the preferred term.
It is difficult to select only a few.
Beneath the thumb lies the afterlife—
where even the lowest in rank will have ten times
the like of this world, and they will have
whatever they desire and ten times like it.
Pressing the detonator opens the shortest circuit—
clearing the path, so the soul of a martyr
can be carried to Paradise in the bosom of green birds.
(Based in part on interviews with Palestinian “suicide bombers,”
their families and leaders, as reported in “An Arsenal of Believers”
by Nasra Hassan, The New Yorker, Nov. 19, 2001)