Last night, in the historic surroundings of the Fraunces Tavern, critically acclaimed Jewish poet Peter Cole, gave a reading of contemporary meditations on an age-old struggle.
Cole set the tone for the evening by introducing his first poem ‘Meaning Of’ as a “take on my own Messianic inclinations — not to mention those of my people”. Cole — poet, translator and publisher — proceeded to hold the Tavern audience rapt as he read from his 2008 collection “Things on Which I’ve Stumbled.”
For Cole, resident in Jerusalem, Israel is the thing upon which he stumbles everyday. To move beyond a messianic response he has written and translated poetry that explores the ethical and spiritual dimensions of humanity and his own Judaism.
Alongside this philosophical discussion Cole also contemplates the political realities of the Israel/Palestine conflict — “Things” emphasizes the need for coexistence in a shared homeland whilst criticizing extremists and fundamentalists of all stripes.
Cole’s are important poems and, like most good literature, worth hearing with a drink in your hand!
Cole and his wife, writer Adina Hoffman, run Ibis Editions, a small Jerusalem based book press specializing in literature of the Levant. Born in Paterson, N.J., Cole won the 2004 PEN-America Translation Award was named a MacArthur fellow in 2007. Four of his poems recently featured in Zeek magazine.