Translator’s Note

Yael Massen

For most of my life, my relationship with Hebrew has been fraught. As the American-born child of bilingual, Hebrew-speaking parents, I grew up surrounded by the language and frustrated by its inaccessibility. To record memories and communicate with family members, particularly my Persian-Israeli grandmother, I began to study the language in earnest in 2012.

My savta’s condition has been debilitated by dementia in the time since my first ulpan at the University of Haifa; translation has become a new and transformative means of advancing my knowledge of Hebrew and communing with my heritage. I combined my academic training as an MFA Candidate in Poetry at Indiana University with my Hebrew studies as a student at The Middlebury Summer Language School in 2015, funded by the Borns Jewish Studies Program. My translations of poems by Anat Levin and Larisa Miller are part of an effort to amplify the voices of contemporary women poets in Israel. My translation of Anat Levin’s poem first appeared in her collection, Slowly Revolving Anna (Achuzat Bayit, 2008). I first encountered Larisa Miller’s poem online from Maayan Magazine, republished as an image. In the future, I hope to continue my dialogue with women artists in Israel, particularly Mizrahi-identified authors, largely under-published in both Hebrew and English.

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