Translator’s Note on Moshe Dor’s Work:
The Hebrew language is spare, rough and guttural, without frills. It is about one third more compact than English. Today’s spoken Hebrew is a vital language, its slang richly peppered with Arab and Americanized words. Israelis speak of the “layers” of their language—low and scruffy, or elevated. Poets from Dor’s generation can incorporate many of these layers into their speech as well as their writing.
Moshe Dor, born in Tel Aviv in 1932, is one of the most prominent poets in Israel. The author of forty books of poetry, essays, interviews and children’s books, A recipient of the Bialik Prize, Israel’s top literary award, and twice winner of Israel’s Prime Minister’s Award in Literature, he is former President of Israeli P.E.N., Counselor for Cultural Affairs in London, and Distinguished Writer in Residence at American University, Washington, DC. As a young man, Dor joined the Haganah and later worked as a journalist, serving on the editorial board of Ma’ariv, a leading Israeli newspaper. Many of Dor’s poems can be found in Hebrew textbooks and studied by students of all ages. His poems have been translated into some 30 languages, including Arabic and Chinese. Dor is the lyricist of Erev Shel Shoshanim (Evening of Roses), one of Israel’s most beloved songs, performed worldwide as a wedding song.
Barbara Goldberg (translator), raised in Forest Hills, New York, has worked with Moshe Dor for over twenty years. They have translated and edited several books of contemporary Israeli poetry, including After the First Rain: Israeli Poems on War and Peace with a foreword by then Prime Minister Shimon Peres (University of Syracuse Press), The Stones Remember: Native Israeli Poetry, recipient of the Witter Bynner Foundation Award (The Word Works) and The Fire Stays in Red: Poems by Ronny Someck (University of Wisconsin Press). Goldberg is a poet in her own right, with four prize-winning books of poetry, most recently, The Royal Baker’s Daughter, recipient of the Felix Pollak Poetry Prize (University of Wisconsin Press). Among her awards are two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, numerous grants from the Maryland State Arts Council as well as awards in translation, fiction, feature writing and speechwriting. Goldberg’s work appears in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Paris Review and Poetry. Goldberg, visiting writer in American University’s MFA program, lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. www.barbaragoldberg.net
Scorched by the Sun: Poems of Moshe Dor, translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Goldberg and Moshe Dor (The Word Works, 2012) is their most recent collaboration. The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature awarded Goldberg a grant for her translations.
Old People Talking
Old people talk too loud
because they can’t
hear themselves and because
they want to leave a word
or two in the death
song of the universe.
They have no idea if
their voices will blend into
that mighty stereophonic chorale
but they try, their throat muscles
stretched thin. It’s impossible
not to honor that human
urge to keep talking.