Photo of Li-Young Lee, Xi Chuan, Marilyn Chin, Forrest Gander, and Zhou Zahn by Nancy Crampton
Today’s guest blog on poetry evenings at 92nd Street Y is by poet Idra Novey (The Next Country and Exit, Civilian). Camille Rankine kicked off the guest blog series with her post on Seamus Heaney.
Novey visited the Unterberg Poetry Center on Monday, October 10th, for our US/Chinese Poetry Exchange. Her piece begins below. As an added bonus, visit Xi Chuan’s website for the text of Forrest Gander’s introduction.
John Felsteiner says that translation is like an opened window: it lets some fresh air in and some stale air get out. The new anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry from Copper Canyon, Push Open the Window, does just that. And the fresh air it brings to American poetry is exhilarating. At the 92nd Street Y’s event on October 10th to celebrate the anthology, audience members got to hear the poetry being written in China now, in Chinese, by two of China’s premier living poets, Xi Chuan and Zhou Zan.
Forrest Gander opened the event by reading from his superb introduction to the anthology. He offered a fascinating quote from Ha Jin, who said that if he were still writing in Chinese he would write poetry now because—and this is the line I underlined—poetry is more promising. It can do more for the language. Implicit in Gander’s inclusion of this quote was the promise of what that poetry can do not just for the language in which it was written but for the languages it enters via translation—in the English versions we would hear that evening.
Rabbi David Kalb is the Director of Jewish Education for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at 92nd Street Y. At 92Y Rabbi Kalb directs and teaches a variety of different learning programs for a range of ages. He also officiates at Jewish life cycle events and serves as a Jewish resource to the entire professional staff and lay leadership of the 92Y. Today he wrote the following guest blog for 92Y:
What is a Tzaddik? - Noach
In this week’s parsha (Torah Portion), the Torah refers to Noach (Noah) as a tzaddik, a righteous person (Bereishit/Geneses 6:9). It is very rare in the Tanach (The Bible) and Jewish literature in general to find a person who is called a tzaddik. Moshe (Moses) does not receive this title; neither does Avraham (Abraham). Why then is Noach worthy of being referred to as a tzaddik? The French Medieval commentator Rashi comments that Noach was a tzaddik in his generation, but if he had lived in the generation of Avraham, he would not have been given the title tzaddik.