Peter Cole is a poet and translator whose work takes root where cultures meet and tradition extends itself in vital fashion. 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 conventional distinctions between old and new, foreign and familiar, translation and original. He is, Harold Bloom writes, “a matchless translator and one of the handful of authentic poets in his own American generation.”
Born in Paterson, NJ, in 1957, Cole is the author of five books of poems—most recently Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (FSG). His volumes of translation from medieval and modern Hebrew and Arabic include The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition (Yale) and The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 (Princeton), as well as poetry and fiction by Aharon Shabtai, Taha Muhammad Ali, Yoel Hoffmann, and others. He has also written a book of non-fiction, Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza (Schocken/Nextbook), with his wife, Adina Hoffman, and edited Hebrew Writers on Writing (Trinity).
Cole has received numerous honors for his work, including fellowships from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, the PEN Translation Award for Poetry, the American Publishers’ Association Hawkins Award for the best university press book of the year, the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007. Cole divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven, where he teaches each spring at Yale.
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