In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner
2015 National Translation Award Finalist
Tuvia Ruebner is one of the major Israeli poets of his generation, and an indispensable voice of modern Jewish experience. Like Paul Klee’s angels, about whom he writes so beautifully, he comes to us “entangled and honed, burgeoning inward.” His poems are postcards which seem to have arrived years after they were sent, yet they bear the immediate historicity and intimate lyricism of an elegy composed at the moment of loss. Brilliantly rendered into English by Rachel Tzvia Back, Ruebner’s poetry continually reminds us of “All this beauty / Despite despite.”
—Norman Finkelstein, author of On Mount Vision: Forms of the Sacred In Contemporary American Poetry
Tuvia Ruebner’s deeply felt, carefully made, utterly necessary poems―many of them broken-hearted elegies, devastating litanies―are balanced on the edge of an abyss. The losses keep rising up; they are impossible to repress. And yet, this cosmopolitan singer, this inheritor of the German lyric, keeps turning to art for consolation, to poetry itself, to the ancient act of making. What a great gift Rachel Tzvia Back has given us by bringing from Hebrew into English these mournful human poems, these guilty survivals, which look into the abyss and rescue beauty from oblivion.
—Edward Hirsch, President, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
Tuvia Ruebner’s moving poems, beautifully translated by Rachel Tzvia Back, transform the dark matter of personal loss and history into cosmologies of light and clarity. They shine there besides those of his contemporaries, Amichai, Pagis and Carmi. In a late poem Ruebner asks: “what would we do with the hunger for the right words.” This collection is a profound and powerful answer. A marvelous gift has been given to us readers of English.
—Michael Heller, author of This Constellation Is A Name: Collected Poems 1965-2010
In the Illuminated Dark immortalizes the work of a major Hebrew poet of the Holocaust generation. I share in the applause for this culturally significant achievement.
—Janice Silverman Rebibo, World Literature Today