We were so pleased to get a translation grant for Scorched by the Sun from the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. It's such a vote of confidence in the collaboration between Moshe Dor and myself. We have worked together on many projects over the years, including The Stones Remember: Native Israeli Poetry (recipient of the Witter Bynner Foundation Award), also published by The Word Works. But this book of his own poems is long overdue. Especially now, when it's so important that saner voices from that ancient and troubled area of the world be heard.
Moshe Dor's poems are rich in allusions to the Hebrew Bible. They also revel in puns and word play. Some resonances of the original may be lost on English-speaking readers. But no matter the language, there is always something "lost" in translation.
Translation has been likened to kissing a bride through a veil. They also say that if the bride (the translation) is beautiful, she is not faithful (doesn't stick to the literal), and if she is faithful, she is not beautiful. Are beauty and fidelity really mutually exclusive? The challenge for the translator is to preserve the poem's underlying core, to convey the freshness, spirit and musicality of the original, to make the poem "sing."
[Publisher's Note: Barbara Goldberg is the translator with Moshe Dor of Scorched by the Sun.]