In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner by Tuvia Ruebner, translated from the Hebrew by Rachel Tzvia Back (University of Pittsburgh Press/Hebrew Union College Press)
This truly impressive and comprehensive bilingual selection spans seven decades of poetry by Tuvia Ruebner, giving a valuable insight into the evolving career of this Slovakian Jewish poet. Ruebner’s poems, gorgeously translated over the last decade by Rachel Tsvia Black, bristle and shimmer; at times they are brutally, heartbreakingly clear (“the morning songs of the humming-birds sound as though their throats are tied”) and at times hushed and meditative (“study the melody/with sealed ears/listen with your hands.”) These translations give us access to the profound depths of Ruebner’s voice and vision, revealing layers that are constantly shifting between biblical, ekphrastic, formal and sound-based concerns. Poems are introduced by the translator in an extensive and engaging introduction to the poet’s life and work, and are followed by lengthy notes, including bibliographic information about Ruebner. This is a truly major work and a beautiful tribute to the career of an important poet.