Found in Translation: A 100 Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry
The Editors of The Drunken Boat are pleased to present an extensive introduction to the well-known Israeli poet, Robert Friend. This issue contains a selection of Robert Friend's poetry spanning four decades and a generous selection of his translations from Found In Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry . The following introduction by Jean Shapiro Cantu, his niece, contains an extensive biography of Robert Friend and a bibliography of his work.
by Jean Shapiro Cantu
Robert Friend died on January 1998 in Jerusalem, Israel, of cancer. He was born in 1913 in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrant parents. After studying at Brooklyn College, Harvard and Cambridge, he taught English literature and writing in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Panama, France, England, and Germany.
Robert Friend settled in Israel in 1950, where he lived the rest of his life. He taught English and American Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for over thirty years, at the same time becoming well-known as a poet (writing in English) and as a translator of Hebrew poetry. His poems and translations have appeared in many periodicals, including The New York Times, Encounter, The London Magazine, The New Yorker,The Atlantic, Partisan Review, Poetry, Ariel, Commentary,The Jerusalem Post, and The Jerusalem Review.
His first published volume of verse, Shadow on the Sun, appeared in 1941; other books of poems and translations followed, including Salt Gifts (1964), The Practice of Absence (1971), Selected Poems (1976), Selected Poems of Leah Goldberg (1976), Natan Alterman: Selected Poems (1978), Somewhere Lower Down (1980), Sunset Possibilities and Other Poems by Gabriel Preil (1985), Dancing With a Tiger (1990), Abbreviations (1994), Flowers of Perhaps: Selected Poems of Ra'hel (1994). A posthumous volume of translations, Found in Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry, edited by Friend's literary executor, Gabriel Levin, was published in 1999. Menard Press plans to publish Friend's Collected Poems in 2003.
Awards include the Jeannette Sewell Davis Prize (Poetry, Chicago). Found in Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry is a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.
Personal: Mr. Friend, who was gay, had many friends in Israel, England and the United States. He was passionately devoted to his large family of cats (who play a prominent role in his poetry). He kept in close touch with his family in the United States, which includes one sister, three brothers, nine nieces and nephews, and nine grand-nieces and nephews.
According to the Jerusalem Review, "Robert Friend is generally considered to be the most prominent figure among English language writers in Israel." To his many friends and fellow writers he mentored (including the American poet Edward Field), he will be remembered not only as a gifted poet/translator, but, indeed, as an excellent friend.
For more information about Robert Friend, please contact his niece, Jean Shapiro Cantu, or the Special Collections Department of Brooklyn College, New York. List of Publications by Robert Friend
Collected Poems. Edited by Gabriel Levin, Menard Press,tentative publication date, 2003.
After Catullus. The Beth-Shalom Press, 1997.
The Next Room. The Menard Press, 1995.
Abbreviations . Etcetera Editions, 1994.
Dancing With A Tiger. The Beth-Shalom Press, 1990.
Cats and Other People . Poems 1987 by Robert Friend. Drawings 1987 by Suzanne Ihilevich.
Somewhere Lower Down. The Menard Press, 1980.
Selected Poems. Tambimuttu at The Seahorse Press, 1975.
The Practice of Absence . Beth-Shalom Press, 1971.
Salt Gifts . The Charioteer Press, Washington, DC, 1964.
Shadow on the Sun . The Press of James A. Decker, 1941.
Found in Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry . Edited and Introduced by Gabriel Levin, Menard Press, 1999.
S.Y. Agnon: The Book of the Alphabet . The Jewish Publication Society, 1998. Copyright 1997 by The Jewish Publication Society.
Flowers of Perhaps: Selected Poems of Ra'hel. The Menard Press, 1995.
Gabriel Priel: Sunset Possibilities and Other Poems. The Jewish Publication Society, 1985.
Natan Alterman: Selected Poems . Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House, 1978.
Leah Goldberg: Selected Poems . The Menard Press, Panjandrum Press, 1976.
UNPUBLISHED WORK ON E.M. FORSTER
"The Quest for Rondure: A Comparison of Two Passages to India"
"Maurice: E.M. Forster's Sexual Bildungsroman"
All poems and translations (except for Agnon material) copyright by Jean Shapiro Cantu. Translations of S.Y. Agnon: The Book of the Alphabet copyright 1997 by The Jewish Publication Society. All rights reserved.
To read Robert Friend's poetry
To read a selection of Robert Friend's translations from Found in Translation: A Hundred Years of Modern Hebrew Poetry