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Metamorphoses reviews YOU WHO CROSS MY PATH

Metamorphoses, the journal of literary translation for Smith College, just published a glowing new review of Erez Bitton's You Who Cross My Path in its Spring 2017 issue. According to reviewer Yardenne Greenspan, "Erez Bitton’s poetry is illuminating in more ways than one. Through his meditations on sightlessness, he delivers the gift of sight. He builds bridges between all we think we know and all we cannot see."

You Who Cross My Path is the first US publication of Erez Bitton, one of Israel’s most celebrated poets, and is translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller.

Calling Eli Hirsch's introduction to the collection "clear, concise, and riveting," Greenspan notes key points about Bitton's remarkable influence through poetry: "Israeli poet Erez Bitton is in the business of bridging gaps: First, the gap between muted Mizrahi culture and writing, hidden away in peripheral and developing towns, and the Ashkenazi axiom of what is considered 'true Israeli.' Second, the gap between the shadow world of the blind and the mythology of eye sight or spiritual sight. Now heralded as the father of Mizrahi poetry, Bitton’s breakthrough voice was recognized rather late in his life, when he won this year’s Israel Prize in Literature."

Commenting on the poet's blindness, Greenspan says, "Bitton shows the way in which the invisibility of the world to the eyes of the blind in turn renders the blind invisible to the world. . . . Undoubtedly, invisibility expands to become the overarching theme of many of Bitton’s subjects. . . . His outlook is compassionate, but also, at times, bleak. To Erez Bitton, the world is a hard place that is simultaneously sweet and lled with good intentions gone awry."

The review concludes: "It is . . . undeniable that Keller has achieved an enormous feat in translating this comprehensive collection, presenting Bitton’s trajectory through several books of poems, and recreating the painful, yet hopeful voice of a man forced to feel like a foreigner in his land by preserving some of the original Hebrew and Arabic within the translation. One decision of hers that I particularly admire is the removal of translations of Arabic words from within the body of the poem (where they appear in Hebrew) to footnotes at the bottom of the page, where they are no longer able to distract from the tantalizing power of the poet feeling and thinking them.

"In publishing this selection of poems, BOA Editions has created a full, aggressively passionate introduction to the poetry of Erez Bitton."

Click here to read the full Metamorphoses review.

For more about You Who Cross My Path, visit the BOA Bookstore.


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