The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems
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  • Paperback Edition
  • ISBN: 978-1-55861-224-2
  • Publication Date: 11-01-1999
  • Page Count: 272
  • Categories: Middle East, Poetry
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Shirley Kaufman

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Galit Hasan-Rokem

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Tamar S. Hess

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The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems

From Antiquity to the Present
Edited by Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem & Tamar S. Hess

Foreword by Alicia Suskin Ostriker. Introduction by Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem & Tamar S. Hess.

This groundbreaking volume of the bilingual The Defiant Muse series includes 100 poems by over 50 poets, many never before available in English. From new interpretations of biblical and rabbinic literature to works by contemporary poets, this collection illuminates the tremendous breadth and diversity of the women's poetic tradition in Hebrew. Poems appear in Hebrew with English translations on opposite pages.

"All of us can be grateful that these feminist poems, collected across centuries, are no longer confined upstairs in the women's gallery."

—Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

"This wonderful book opened new poetic worlds to me. . . . More than 100 poems in Hebrew by women have been translated into English, with adjacent Hebrew originals. The choices and translations have been made with learning and love, from the Bible to the present, from ancient Israel and Babylonia to Spain, North Africa, and Russia and from Ottoman and British Palestine to modern Israel. What is perhaps most moving about these poems is the way, through their gathering in one place, they restore a collective voice to the general silence of women within traditional Jewish culture through the millennia. The introduction and the biographical notes are models of great erudition. The translations are distinguished poetry in themselves. . . . Hebrew in this book speaks or sings in English in a way that adds to the riches of English poetry."

—J. Hillis Miller, UCI Distinguished Professor, UC Irvine

"From Miriam and Deborah, two of the Bible's great heroines, to such contemporary artists as Dahlia Ravikovitch and Leah Aini, women poets writing Hebrew have long been inspired by a defiant muse, as the editors of this superb anthology dramatically demonstrate in selections that document the range, richness, power, and protest embodied in the poems authored by centuries of Jewish women."

—Sandra M. Gilbert, professor of English, UC Davis, co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women

"Nothing like [this] exists, even in Hebrew. . . . It is a rich sampling of 3000 years of women's voices expressed in Hebrew poetry in ways that are strong, individual, and sometimes quite startling."

—Robert Alter, professor of Hebrew and comparative literature, UC Berkeley

"In the biblical echo chamber which is Hebrew, the voices of women and feminists have remained muffled. Now this abundant and necessary bilingual anthology gives those voices clarity and definition. In striking translations by seasoned poets, The Defiant Muse uncovers, advances, and reconstitutes the Hebraic tradition. It will never be the same again."

—Mary Felstiner, professor of history, San Francisco State University