Peter Cole has been called “an inspired writer” (the Nation) and “one of the most vital poets of his generation” (Harold Bloom). Born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1957, he is the author of five books of poems—most recently Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (FSG, 2017). His many volumes of translation from medieval and modern Hebrew and Arabic include The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition (Yale, 2012), The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950–1492 (Princeton, 2007), as well as poetry and fiction by Aharon Shabtai, Taha Muhammad Ali, Yoel Hoffmann, and others. Praised for his “prosodic mastery” and “keen moral intelligence” (The American Poet), and for the “rigor, vigor, joy, and wit” of his poetry (The Paris Review), Cole has created a ramifying vision of connectedness, one that defies traditional distinctions between old and new, foreign and familiar, translation and original.
Cole has received numerous honors for his work, including fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry, the PEN Translation Prize for Poetry, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Library Association’s Award for the Jewish Book of the Year (with Adina Hoffman, for Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza) and, in 2007, a MacArthur Fellowship. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, where he teaches at Yale each spring.
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