Shez, the Israeli poet and novelist whose poetry collection “Dance of the Lunatic” I’ve been translating, has had her newest novel turned into the film That Lovely Girl which just premiered at Cannes. The novel, Far From His Absence, is harrowing in print, the story of a daughter in her 20s who has had a violent sexual relationship with her father since she was little.
Director Keren Yedaya, who won a Camera d’Or at Cannes a decade ago for her neatly titled debut “Or”, pulled together some of Israel’s most highly-regarded actors to create this tightly-controlled, nearly claustrophobic “kitchen sink” horror story.
Will this make my translation of her poems easier to get published? No clue. The novel behind the film is being translated into French and published by Harper Collins, so that’s some clout the name didn’t carry before.
Apiary 7 is coming out soon, with 3 of my translations of Shez’s poems. You can get your copy at Big Blue Marble, and many other locations in Philadelphia. APIARY 7: The POWER Issue is unique: our first collaboration with another organization, Decarcerate PA, to feature the work of a specific community (incarcerated authors), and our first themed issue, too.
And if you like to party with poets – read on!
APIARY 7 launches December 7th at Underground Arts with our signature dance extravaganza + high-energy reading. Come celebrate with us and Decarcerate PA! and boogie with writers and readers from all over the city.
The literary/dance extravaganza takes place Saturday, December 7th at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street. We promise music, dancing, refreshments, face-painting, APIARY-artwork-button-making, and most importantly,feeling Philly’s literary love.
At 7pm, local spoken word personalities Jacob Winterstein, Lyrispect, and Vision will be your guide through an all-ages evening of the freshest, most POWERful poetry and prose in Philadelphia. Power-Grooves will be provided by house band The Urban Shamans. After 10pm, everyone 21 and up can let loose as the renowned DJ Precolumbian spins until 2am.
A poem for Good Friday, from Shez, a Jewish Israeli lesbian-feminist poet and one-time punk rocker. The translation is my own.
Only I know what’s in Jesus’ underwear
I was with him just yesterday—
on his last night—
I didn’t laugh
I wasn’t surprised when
I lowered his underwear
I sucked I licked I slid in, pushing
I blew hard I breathed deep and
all shook up I shouted:
“Woman! Bestow upon me your beauty
your compassion, your grace
Dowse me in your passion
your tenderness, your womb”
I’m trying to ease back into the arduous process of translating. Gently, one poem at a time, which pretty much means one word at a time then one line at a time then one stanza at a time and then, with any luck, one poem.
Here’s a first pass at a literal translation of one of Shez’s poems from “Dance of the Lunatic” that I didn’t have time to include in my MFA manuscript:
My dead come quietly to the tombstone rocks above my body
Sometimes they take a tea break and sit above my body drinking
in an orderly fashion
Sometimes they deviate from the rules
and one of them kills a cigarette
not during an intermission
For years they’ve promised me a car,
not large, not new, not fast,
and they do so again tonight
I feel already how I through landscapes rocky
am flying at fifty miles an hour
Every review counts, especially on a web site about international literature. Mai Schwartz found this for me, on the site for “Three Percent”:
The new issue of Two Lines, entitled “Passageways,” has just been released. All in all, it’s a pretty awesome anthology, and includes great pieces by authors like Quim Monzó and Naja Marie Aidt. There’s also a poem by Shez that is particularly touching.
Ok, so it is very small. But it is the first review in English of one of Shez’s poems in translation. And that ain’t nothing to sneeze at!
I’ve not been blogging much since starting a new job, so all kinds of things have been happening. Here’s the first Big News of the fall:
I was awarded a Leeway Art and Change Grant for my work translating Shez’s poetry! Yeah!
The $2500 I received will go towards funding my retreat at the Vermont Studio Center next summer. Combined with the scholarship I received from them, I’m nearly on track to both go and cover some of my life expenses while I’m on leave from work.
To find out more about this award, and about Leeway in General, read this
The Spring 2012 Issue of Trivia went live today, including the first four Shez translations to ever appear in English! I’m so happy! And, when I asked that the Hebrew be included, the editors worked hard to find a way to make that happen. Go read ’em, and stay to take in the other great writing and photography in the issue:
more translating work. There’s an earlier version of this, from when I started in May. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, and know I have still have so much more to learn. So “Yeah!” for step 2, knowing there’ll be plenty more steps to celebrate along the way…
Shez Dance of the Lunatic page 86
translated by Elliott batTzedek
July 8 2011
When the day of judgment arrives, none of you—you fathers who rape—
will say even one word
finally you will sit, your silence
making at last the place where the terrorized girl can weep
but until that day of judgment, you’ll continue gagging me,
you’ll go on smiling graciously,
you’ll refuse to allow my words to be printed
anywhere you are
you’ll go on with the alibi of literary value