September 17, 2002

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: September 5, 2002

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-An Israeli and a Palestinian poet will each read from his work on Sunday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Middlebury College. Aharon Shabtai of Tel Aviv will read his poems in Hebrew; Taha Muhammad Ali, who is from Nazareth, will read in Arabic. Peter Cole, poet and translator, will accompany the readings with translations. The event will take place at the Center for International Affairs on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125), and is free and open to the public.

Shabtai, who was born in 1939, is a lecturer at Tel Aviv University. In a recent television interview on Israel's Channel One, Amos Schocken, the publisher of the Israeli daily newspaper Ha'aretz, predicted that in 10 or 15 years Shabtai will be recognized as the most important Hebrew poet of our time. Shabtai is also the foremost Hebrew translator of Greek drama and was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Translation in 1993. He is the author of more than 15 books of poetry, most recently "Politics." His work has been featured in American Poetry Review and a large selection of his poems, "Love & Selected Poems," translated by Peter Cole, was published in 1997 by Sheep Meadow Press.

Born in 1931 in the Galilean village of Saffuriya-Tzippori -Ali fled to Lebanon during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. A year later he returned to find his village destroyed. He has lived in Nazareth ever since. The Saffuriya of his childhood has served as the nexus of his poetry and fiction, which is grounded in everyday experience and driven by a storyteller's vivid imagination. For many years, Ali supported himself by selling souvenirs in his shop in Nazareth, which is now run by his sons. He is the author of three volumes of poetry and a collection of short stories in Arabic. The first English language collection of his work, "Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story," was published in 2000 by Ibis Editions.

A poet and translator of medieval and contemporary Hebrew and Arabic, Cole is the author of three books of poetry, the guest editor of an anthology of stories, poems and essays, and the translator of seven books, including the forthcoming "The Poetry of Kabbalah." His work has also been published in a number of publications, including The Jerusalem Post, the Norton Book of Jewish-American Poetry and Poetry Magazine.

Cole-who was born in New Jersey and now lives in Jerusalem-has won many awards, including the Times Literary Supplement's 2001 Jewish Book Council Porjes Translation Prize, the National Endowment for the Humanities Independent Scholar/Translator Fellowship, the Gerbode Prize for Poetry, and the General Electric Foundation Award for Younger Writers for Poetry.

The evening of poetry readings will be sponsored by the Curt C. and Else Silberman Chair in Jewish Studies and the Saltz Judaica Fund. The event is dedicated to the memory of John Wallach, a member of the Middlebury College class of 1964 and founder of Seeds of Peace, a summer camp in Maine that fosters relations between Israeli and Arab youth.

For more information, contact Mari Price in the office of the Middlebury College dean of faculty at 802-443-5391.