Let The Translating Begin!

So, having finished my MFA in poetry, and taken a semester to rest, I’ll be going back to school in late June to work on the poetry in translation track of Drew’s MFA program. Yes, me, translating, even though I’ve pretty much utterly failed to succeed in learning any other language, ever, and the thought of coming up against things I can’t read makes me feel more than a little shaky. So why do it? Because the translators I’ve met through Drew are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, because what they have to say about poetry pushes my thinking to the limit, because what I’ll learn about language will increase exponentially in the process. Because I’m a slut for being in over my head.

I’m searching for a poet or project, and on the recommendation of a friend found the Israeli Jewish poet Jean Shez, who describes herself as a lesbian writing about lesbian love and child abuse from a feminist perspective. Instantly intriguing me, of course. I’ve found a few of her poems on the web, and am trying to slog through a couple to get a sense of her as a writer. Here’s my first attempt, still missing a couple key words that my usual go-to folks for Hebrew questions couldn’t answer. First in Hebrew, then my working translation. Stay tuned, as I’ll be posting updates every time I manage to make a little more sense of her poem.

בַּלֵּילוֹת הָאַיָּלָה חוֹלֶמֶת עַל
נִמְרֹד גִּבּוֹר צַיִד
שֶׁתָּבוֹא כְּבָר לִתְקֹעַ חֵץ
בִּקְרָבַי
שֶׁתַּעֲמֹד פְּשׂוּק רַגְלַיִם מֵעַל
גּוּפָתִי הַדּוֹמֶמֶת
שֶׁתַּעֲרִיץ אֶת הַבָּשָׂר הַזֶה

In the evenings the fawn dreams
of Nimrad, the mighty hunter,
who will come to press an arrow
inside me
to straddle my unmoving body,
to lord over this meat

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