By David Avidan
Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller
Futureman brings Avidan's groundbreaking oeuvre to American readers for the first time. His poetry explores registers, colloquialisms, and the trajectory of Hebrew as a contemporary language deserving of a place in poetry.
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
David Avidan was himself a Futureman, a self-described "Galactic Poet" and radical individualist known for his innovative use of Hebrew both on the page and in his performances and films. Recognized by the New York Times as one of the poets that "helped the biblical tongue evolve into a modern, living language," Avidan played in his work with lexical and syntactical innovations, neologisms, various registers of Hebrew throughout its history, and colloquial speech, which he believed deserved its place in poetry. Ever the innovator, in 1974 he even conducted a poetic dialogue with a computer. Futureman, in Tsipi Keller's virtuosic translation, introduces selections from across Avidan's groundbreaking oeuvre to English-language readers for the first time. Scholar Anat Weisman, in her illuminating introduction "David Avidan: The Sadosemantic Poet," provides the literary, social, and cultural background to Avidan's work.
Poet, translator, painter, filmmaker, playwright, and publisher David Avidan (1934-1995) was born in Tel Aviv, where he lived and worked. A major force in contemporary Hebrew poetry and a leading innovator and artist, Avidan published nineteen books of poetry, as well as plays and children’s books. His work has been translated into twenty languages, and collections of his poems have been published in Arabic, French, and Russian. He wrote and directed four short films, including “Sex,” which was shown at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1971. He translated plays by Chekhov, Brecht, and Friedrich Schiller, as well as Hamlet, and the play adaptation of Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish. His Collected Poems, in four volumes, was published by Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Bialik Institute in 2009-2011. Among his awards, he won the Abraham Woursell Award from the University of Vienna, the Bialik Award, and the Prime Minister Award.
Tsipi Keller was born in Prague, raised in Israel, studied in Paris, and now lives in the U.S. Novelist and translator and the author of eleven books, she is the recipient of several literary awards, including National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, New York Foundation for the Arts Fiction grants, and an Armand G. Erpf Translation Award from Columbia University. Her translations have appeared in literary journals and anthologies in the U.S. and Europe, as well as in The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization (Yale University Press, 2012). Her Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry (SUNY Press, 2008) has received many accolades, and deemed: “Not since Carmi’s 1981 Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse has a volume of such significance been published” (The Forward). Her most recent collections are Raquel Chalfi’s Reality Crumbs (SUNY Press, 2015), and Erez Bitton’s You Who Cross My Path (BOA Editions, 2015).