Translator’s Note on Agi Mishol’s Work:
The poetry of Agi Mishol is evocative, accessible, grounded in the present yet steeped both in Mishol’s personal past and in the public past of Israel. The challenge is to translate the words without removing them from their larger cultural context and also to preserve the gentle lyrical quality that Mishol’s poetry possesses in the original Hebrew. Cynthia Ozick wrote that “a translation can serve as a lens into the underground life of another culture,” and my wish in translating Agi Mishol’s poetry is to create this lens for readers of English.
Agi Mishol is an established Israeli poet who has won an array of prizes, including the Yehuda Amichai Prize, the Prime Minister’s Prize and the coveted Dolitzky Prize. The daughter of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, Agi Mishol was born in Transylvania, Romania in 1946, emigrating to Israel at an early age. Her work has been translated into a number of languages and she has published more than a dozen books of poetry in Hebrew. Look There was published in English by Graywolf Press. Her latest Hebrew poetry collection is entitled Working Order. Agi Mishol directs the Helicon School of Poetry in Tel Aviv.
Joanna Chen (translator) is a British-born journalist and poet. She has published extensively in Newsweek, The Daily Beast, BBC World Service and Radio 4. She has also published world reports on women’s issues in Marie Claire that have been syndicated in the USA, Europe and Australia. Joanna Chen’s poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals both in Israel and abroad, most recently in Poet Lore. www.joannachen.com
When she sees me in the morning
coming out of the house toward the fields
she leaps around me leaving
on the path
one long, precise sentence
Proud of her name
she charges into the crows
just to prove she’s guarding
She returns with a chicken in her mouth.
It must have escaped the neighbor’s coop.
She won’t eat it but neither will she let it go,
just stands there steaming with the bird between her teeth
and a shy wag of her tail –
half she-dog, half she-wolf
lost on the border.
She has no money
and doesn’t hold a grudge.
When she’s hungry – she eats.
When she’s thirsty – she drinks.
When she’s tired she stretches out
and falls asleep under a bush.
Always by my side
she goes where I want to
before I even get up.