Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sui Genius

This Just In: Peter Cole Wins MacArthur "Genius" Grant

Very good start to year! Peter Cole, whom we've mentioned here many a time before, has won a MacArthur. Evidently he got the call just before the Hi-Hos. Gives a whole new meaning to that Leonard Cohen line: "and who / shall I say / is calling?"

Here's the official announcement off the MacArthur website:

Peter Cole is a translator, publisher, and poet who brings the often overlooked works of medieval Spain and the modern Middle East to English-speaking audiences. His highly regarded translations of the poetry of Solomon Ibn Gabirol and Shmuel HaNagid, two of the great Hebrew poets of the Andalusian “Golden Age,” offer readers a lyrical illustration of the extraordinary Arab-Jewish cultural partnership that flourished in tenth- through twelfth-century Spain. A poet himself, Cole’s translations infuse medieval verse with contemporary meaning while remaining faithful to the original text. His renderings of HaNagid’s poems in particular, long regarded as “untranslatable,” retain the subtleties, complexities, and formal elegance of the original verse. Underlying Cole’s translations is an implicit message of cultural and historical cross-fertilization that is also evident in his work as a poet and a publisher. His Ibis Editions publishes little-known works translated from Arabic, Hebrew, German, French, and Ladino, enlightening English-speaking audiences to the thriving literary tradition of the Levant. By fostering literary dialogue in and about the Middle East, Ibis provides an occasion for intellectual and cultural collaboration. In a region mired in conflict, Cole’s dedication to the literature of the Levant offers a unique and inspiring vision of the cultural, religious, and linguistic interactions that were and are possible among the peoples of the Middle East.

In your honor, Peter, this--if only because it started running through my head the minute I heard the news. Hats off!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

After the Flood

My Jewish home base, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, has been in temporary digs for about a year now, while our new building gets built. Our library was boxed up and put into storage--and, sadly, during the storms that marked this summer here in Chicago, most of the library was destroyed. (Who by water? Now we know.)

Our librarian has asked me to give her a wish list for the poetry section, and for the library more generally: anthologies, single author texts, works of criticism, you name it. I'm passing the question along to you, my colleagues and friends. In the best of all possible worlds, what should we buy? In this world, what should our priorities be?

I'll post my own list as I draw it up--but I'm eager to see what your lists would look like, so send them along, one by one, two by two, or by the dozens!

To thank you (in advance), this, by the Idan Raichel Project:

Out of the depths...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More announcements

In the spirit of Eric's announcement of Maeera's book (which I'll be reviewing for American Literature), folks might be interested in a couple of other new items. The first is perhaps not news to most people here, but just in case: Jerry Rothenberg's Triptych, just out from New Directions, with brief intro by Charles Bernstein and brief postface by Jerry. The book reissues Poland/1931 and Khurbn, and juxtaposes them with a new serial poem, "The Burning Babe." The second item is a scholarly article that perhaps fewer of us are likely to run across: Eric Hoffman, "A Poetry of Action: George Oppen and Communism," American Communist History 6.1 (2007): 1-28. The second half of the title pretty much tells you what it's about; among other things, it makes extensive use of previously unavailable FBI files.