Tree Press Publisher hat

There is a Tree/shteyt a boim: Poems by Itzik  Manger translated from the Yiddish by Murray Citron (Tree Press, 2011)  See, already this sounds interesting, and very different!cover a tree murray

 

(Contact me on facebook for copies and I`ll put you in touch with Murray)

When Rod Pederson, Rona Shaffran and I were co-directors of The Tree Reading Series, we decided to form Tree Press. We had big plans for the Press, mainly to hold an annual Chapbook Contest, but we wanted to start off with a special publication. Our choice was to publish Murray Citron`s translations. We had been hearing the poems at the open mic.

Itzik Manger was born in Rumania about 1900. In 1938 he moved to Paris, and in 1940 he escaped just ahead of the Germans. This is only part of his story.

Murray Citron has a BA from the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall, but he always begins by saying he is a grandfather. This is only part of his story.

This was a tricky book to do. Murray would find a Yiddish version of a poem, like this one, which of course, I could not read…yiddish poem

At this moment, I have no idea which poem this is, and in matching the Yiddish and English translation, there were a few glitches. My parrot for one, was not happy with the time I was spending with Murray, and made quite a scene. Eventually we got it all straightened out, the right Yiddish with the right English versions.

Here is one of the translations, most likely not a match for the poem above; the poems are based on biblical stories, but are full of surprises and humour:

 Abraham and Sarah

 “Abraham, when will we have a child?

We are both long past our prime.

In other families a woman my age

Is due for the eighteenth time.”

 

Abraham our Father smiles and is still

And puffs a ring from his pipe.

“Have faith, my wife.  If the Supreme One wishes,

Then even a broom can be ripe.”

 

“Abraham, listen, every night

My body cuts like a knife.

Hagar is only your serving maid,

But I am the one who’s your wife.

 

Sometimes in the window I see a star,

And I think it is the soul

Of our child who flutters in the wind

Where clouds and waters roll.”

 

Abraham our Father puffs his pipe.

The smoke is warm and good.

“Have faith, my wife.  If the All-highest wills,

Even a broom can shoot.”

 

“When I see sometimes how Hagar’s child

Plays in the sun and the sand

And I give a pat on his little head,

Such a sadness grabs my hand,

 

And when I hold him on my lap

And he smiles so clever and good,

My eyes grow wet and dim with tears,

And sorrow dulls my blood.

 

Sweetheart, when will we have a child?

We are both long past our prime.

Among other people a woman my age

Has been due for the eighteenth time.”

 

Father Abraham puffs his pipe,

The smoke is warm and good.

“Have faith, my darling.  If the All-highest wills,

Even a broom can shoot.”

It was such a privilege to work with Murray on this. I`m so glad we three co-directors were so clever in choosing these translations as our inaugural Tree Chapbook.

 

 

 

 

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