Award-winning poet Yael S. Hacohen’s full-length collection, “The Dove That Didn’t Return,” offers a moving perspective from the war-torn Middle East conflict

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Image credit: Yael S. Hacohen

War poetry has long been dominated by male voices, but author, Tel Aviv University lecturer, and former Israeli Defense Force Commander Yael S. Hacohen’s brilliant collection “The Dove That Didn’t Return” contributes a woman’s perspective to the canon of conflict-born prose and literature.


Drawing inspiration from life as a soldier, the traditions of her Jewish heritage, religious imagery, the tragedy of war, and the complexities of the human condition, Hacohen’s debut full-length poetry collection explores the nuances of identity, family, violence, duty, and compassion. Her vivid writing and ability to handle delicate subjects with grace render truly moving works that reach into the core of shared humanity to create a hopeful message of peace.

Dr. Hacohen’s journey as a poet began during her time as an IDF lieutenant, where she used creative writing as a way to process the difficult experiences of military life. She also discovered a fascination with language through military jargon, where common words take on new meanings and simple phrases can carry major significance. Honing her literary skills and developing her unique voice, this practice of writing about her daily experiences would be the beginning of a creative career that has since been decorated with awards and academic achievements.

After military service, Yael studied writing at Tel Aviv University, went on to receive her MFA in poetry from New York University, and subsequently earned a PhD in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley. With these credentials and an established presence as a brilliant poet, Hacohen currently teaches writing to students of all backgrounds at her undergraduate alma mater, Tel Aviv University. She was a New York University Veterans Workshop fellow and the international editor at Washington Square Literary Review.

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Image credit: Yael S. Hacohen

Hacohen’s poetry has been featured in a number of publications, including New York Quarterly Magazine, Comstock Review, Prairie Schooner, LIT, Colorado Review, and many others. She has been a finalist for the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Poetry Contest, the MSLexia Poetry Prize for Women, the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize, the Consequences Prize in Poetry, and the American Short(er) Fiction Prize. Her poem “Amos 3:5” was the winner of the prestigious Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, and her 2021 chapbook “Between Sanctity and Sand” (Finishing Line Press) was published in 2021 to critical acclaim.

Continuing to build on these accomplishments and further refining her ability to articulate the horrors of violence, the tender moments that connect all people, and the deeply spiritual experience of humanity, Dr. Yael S. Hacohen’s forthcoming full-length collection, “The Dove That Didn’t Return,” is the latest addition to a powerful body of work.

Dr. Hacohen sees her poetry as a form of prayer, carefully choosing her words with honesty and holding faith that they will be heard. Through lessons from her grandfather, a major general in the IDF and practicing Jew, Yael sees the interconnectedness of faith, service, tradition, and ritual as inseparable parts of identity, and writes in a way that represents both her heritage and the universality of her ideas.

“The Dove That Didn’t Return” is a beautiful, tender examination of the shared pain of war, the seemingly small moments that give life meaning, the importance of faith, and the enduring values of peace, compassion, and love. With messages and imagery that apply to readers of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds, Hacohen’s work provides insight into conflict in the Middle East, Jewish culture, the complexities of war, and most importantly, the experiences and ethics that unite all human beings.

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Image credit: Yael S. Hacohen

Yael S. Hacohen’s wonderful poetry collection is available as of June 25, 2024 through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major retailers. Learn more about her writing and career at

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