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Moshe Dor
(Mandatory Palestine, 1932–2016)   
Moshe Dor

Moshe Dor, who died last year, was born in Tel Aviv under British Mandatory rule.  He was the author of scores of books - dozens of his own poetry, and most of the rest translations ranging from contemporary American poets Charles Simic, Robert Hass and Rita Dove to British writers as iconic as Arthur Conan Doyle, Chesterton and Robert Graves.

Recipient of the Bialik Prize, Israel’s top literary award, and (twice) the Prime Minister’s Prize in Literature, Dor was a guest of the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival in 1996. He served as president of Israel’s PEN Center, as Counselor for Cultural Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London and as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the American University, Washington, DC, where he met his life partner (and English translator) Barbara Goldberg. Their collaboration lasted for more than 28 years, during which the poet divided his time between Israel and the US, and led to several anthologies of contemporary Israeli poetry including The Stones Remember and After the First Rain: Israeli poems on war and peace.

Dor is a down-to-earth poet who looks straight on at nature and people. After lovemaking, in WE SHOULD GIVE THANKS, he sees "the fundamental landscape, a naïve/ painting that is nothing more/  than it appears – railroad, pine grove, water tank". And reality has primacy over "the irrelevance of literature". But human relationships supersede all, even geography. "My motherland is/ your bodyland" Dor writes in "Topography":

your breasts – the hills
of Jerusalem,
your belly – the coastal plain,
and between your thighs sometimes
the saltiness of the Dead Sea
and sometimes
the sweet Kinneret.
     [Tr. Barbara Goldberg]
Former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky has written that Dor's work is "ardent, compressed, pungent and lyrical", with a "glorious force that recalls the roots of all poetry."

© Lisa Katz


A comprehensive list of books and reviews

Books in English translation:
Scorched by the Sun (poems) Tr. Barbara Goldberg, Washington DC, Word Works, 2012.
After the First Rain: Israeli poems on war and peace Ed. Moshe Dor and Barbara Goldberg, various translators, Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 1998
Khamsin (memoir and poems) Ed. Barbara Goldberg, various translators, Colorado Springs, Three Continents Press, 1994
The Stones Remember: native Israeli poetry Ed. Moshe Dor, Giora Leshem and Barbara Goldberg, various translators, Washington DC, Word Works, 1991
Crossing the River (poems) Ed. Seymour Mayne, Ontario, Mosaic Press, 1990
Maps of Time (poems) Introduction by Alan Sillitoe. London, Menard Press, 1978
The Burning Bush (Israeli fiction and poetry) Ed. Moshe Dor and Natan Zach, London, Howard and Wyndham, 1977.

In Dutch:
En bij het begin al: gedichten geselecteerd en vertaald door Shulamith Bamberger, Amsterdam, Marsyas,1988

From: Scorched by the Sun, 2011
An interview with the poet and his translator
A Moment magazine tribute to the poet
Review of Khamsin

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