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Poet, translator Peter Cole to give pre-concert talk

November 2, 2009

The poet and translator Peter Cole will give a free talk on Friday, November 6 at 7 pm about the texts for Aaron Jay Kernis’s Symphony of Meditations. The talk precedes the 8pm performance, which features Kernis himself conducting the Yale Philharmonia, Yale Camerata, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Schola Cantorum in the symphony’s East Coast premiere. Cole translated the texts that Kernis used in the Symphony of Meditations. The original Hebrew texts, by the 11th-century Andalusian poet Solomon Ibn Gabirol, are a lyrical meditation that addresses the universal themes of life, death, and one’s relationship to God. Kernis was introduced to Gabirol’s work in Cole’s translations after the death of his parents, and he considers the work – the first symphony he has written in 17 years – “a statement of my Jewishness.” Kernis reflects, “[the work] has made me ruminate and meditate a great deal upon how it is that we human beings and our souls are created and shaped, and what makes us into our own selves.”

cole_peterPeter Cole (b. 1957, Paterson, NJ) is the author of three books of poems, most recently Things on Which I’ve Stumbled (New Directions, 2008). His many volumes of translations from Hebrew and Arabic include The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 (Princeton), Aharon Shabtai’s J’accuse (New Directions), Taha Muhammad Ali’s So What: New & Selected Poems 1973-2005 (Copper Canyon), and Hebrew Writers on Writing (Trinity). Cole who lives in Jerusalem and co-edits Ibis Editions, has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and Middlebury College.

Cole has received numerous honors for his work, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry, the Association of American Publishers’ Hawkins Award for Book of the Year, the PEN Translation Award for Poetry, the MLA Scaglione Translation Award, and a TLS Translation Prize. In 2007, he was named a MacArthur Fellow.

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