Publisher Sans Frontières
Chair: Natasha Lehrer
In ‘Publisher Sans Frontières’ renowned actors Samuel West and Catherine Kanter thrilled the audience with readings of a selection of English translations of Hebrew and Arabic literature. The readings came from recent publications produced by Ibis Editions, a Jerusalem-based press dedicated to the publication in English of Levant-related literature. They included powerful, little-known poems by the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem; excerpts from the haunting last novel by leading Palestinian novelist Emile Habiby; vivid poems by Esther Raab, the first native-born Israeli woman poet; satirical prose from a long-forgotten French Egyptian writer and Governor of Suez, Ahmed Rassim; prose by the father of modern Hebrew poetry, Haim Nahman Bialik; poetry and prose by the Anglo-Jerusalem writer Denis Silk; and the bittersweet, deeply human poetry of Nazareth poet and shopkeeper, Taha Muhammad Ali.
The readings were introduced by Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman, the editors and publishers of Ibis Editions.
Peter Cole is the author of two collections of poetry, Rift (Station Hill Press, 1989) and Hymns & Qualms (Sheep Meadow Press, 1997), and has published nine books of translation from Hebrew and Arabic poetry and prose. He has received numerous awards, including the Times Literary Supplement’s 2001 Jewish Book Council Porjes Translation prize forSelected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol (Princeton) and the Modern Language Association-Scaglione Translation Prize for Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (Princeton). He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Jerusalem.
Adina Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood (Steerforth Press and Broadway/Doubleday Books, 2002). Her essays and criticism have appeared in The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, The Boston Globe, New York Newsday, Tin House, CoExist Magazine, The Forward, and on the World Service of the BBC. Formerly a film critic for the American Prospect and the Jerusalem Post, she has worked as an editor and teacher and been visiting professor at Middlebury College and Wesleyan University. She lives in Jerusalem.
“The Levant that really we are trying to build up a picture of with the books we publish is, well it is very much a geography, a specific place on the map. It’s really what the American writer Guy Davenport has called ‘a geography of the imagination’ and that’s why in the programme today, and also in the literature for the press, we have started to think of ourselves more and more as a ‘publisher without borders’ because in the imagination these borders don’t exist and, in particular, the kind of imagination we’re working with is the writerly imagination. We’re publishers, but we’re really driven by a writerly vision, not by a market vision, and we’re trying to reflect the way in which writers in that part of the world think about literature, are nourished by other literatures different from their own, and creating these synthetic forms, these hybrids and that is really, for us, where the wealth of the region comes from.”
Experience the event as it happened:Transcripts