In this episode J.J. and Peter Cole discuss Jewish poetry, aesthetics, and why Samuel ibn Naghrillah would probably make an excellent rapper.
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1957, Peter Cole is the author of six books of poems—most recently Draw Me After (FSG, November 2022) and Hymns & Qualms: New and Selected Poems and Translations (FSG, 2017)—as well as many volumes of translation from Hebrew and Arabic, medieval and modern. Praised for his “prosodic mastery” and “keen moral intelligence” (The American Poet), and for the “rigor, vigor, joy, and wit” of his poetry (The Paris Review), Cole has created a body of work that defies traditional distinctions between old and new, foreign and familiar, translation and original. He is, Harold Bloom writes, “a matchless translator and one of the handful of authentic poets in his own American generation.” Among his many honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Jewish National Book Award, the PEN Prize in Translation, and, in 2007, a MacArthur Fellowship. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven.