Tag: Peter Cole

Fiddler on the Roof: Our Sabbath Prayer

Every week in synagogue, as we return the Torah to the ark, we sing a prayer that concludes, “Chadesh Yameynu K’Kedem.” The line has been variously translated, but my favorite is this one: “Make our days seem new, as they once were.” It comes from Lamentations, songs of sorrow composed after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and killed or banished many of its inhabitants. But today the invocation speaks less to a geographic sense of loss and longing than to a psychic sense of ritual that’s become rote, feeling that’s gone cold, a desire for a more vital apprehension of liturgy and law, an experience of prayer akin to what our ancestors once felt. Or so we assume they once felt. […]

“True, it all happened a long time ago, but it has haunted me ever since.”

The Wall Street Journal reports on an Israeli novel about the liquidation of a Palestinian village during the Nakba, which was published 65 years ago and has been translated into English for the first time. My friends Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole had a major hand in commissioning and editing the translation. In 1949, the publication of a short novel “Khirbet Khizeh,” about the forceful evacuation of a Palestinian village by Israeli soldiers, created a stir in the newly established state of Israel. Now, 65 years later, the controversial Hebrew classic by S. Yizhar is taking on a new life in English. On Tuesday, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published a new edition of the book’s first English translation, by Nicholas […]

Operation Firm Cliff

Peter Cole, “On the Slaughter“: On the night of July 7, the gates opened, even as they were being closed, when the Israel Defense Forces launched what it calls for export Operation Protective Edge. (A more literal translation of the operation’s catchy Hebrew name would be Firm Cliff—with “cliff,” according to the Hebrew equivalent of the OED, evoking in its primary definition the high place in the wilderness off of which a scapegoat is cast each year on the Day of Atonement. Words, as we know, have powers often lost on those who speak them.)

The Poetics and Politics of Time

From Peter Cole’s new collection of poems, The Invention of Influence, comes this little wonder, “Of Time and Intensity”: Is Time a dispersion of intensity? For epiphanists, maybe, but not for me— for whom Time is a transposition of immensity into a lower key. The republican tradition of Machiavelli—not to mention political and cultural theories of decadence—is always worried about this problem of temporal distance from a moment of origin. Conservatism is too. Sometimes. In ten words, Cole explains why these concerns may be unfounded. Peter’s not a political poet, but I always find unanticipated resources for my own thinking in his poems. I really recommend that you buy this latest collection of his.

If things seem better in Jerusalem, it’s because they’re worse

My friend Adina Hoffman, whose biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali is a small treasure, has a wonderful piece in The Nation this week on the visit by the Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf to Jerusalem this past summer.  Though film buffs will read and love the entire piece, it also has a lengthy interlude on Jerusalem that should be of special interest to readers of this blog. (Adina lived in Jerusalem throughout the 90s and the aughts, and now divides her time between Jerusalem and New Haven.) The piece  is behind the paywall at The Nation, which is a shame, but the editors have liberated it for a day (today). Anyway, here’s a taste: These are strange […]