Someone Else

Dina Katan

Translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Green

What is it like to be
someone else
a beautiful woman, for instance,
tall, slender frame,
graceful, poised,
far from the miserable shortness,
from the mousy state of children
of that war.

A woman whose face alights in a furtive blush,
whose night’s whispers smile, perhaps, in her memory
of sweet messages, from the dimmed heat of her dusky flesh —
and what freedom of movement!

What is it like to be
a legendary tapestry

מישהי אחרת

מאת: דינה קטן

איך זה להיות
מישהי אחרת
,אשה יפה, למשל
,גבוהה, דקת גו
,מעדנת, ננוחה
,רחוקה מן הנמיכות החרופה
מתסמונת עכברית של ילדי
.המלחמה ההאי

,אשה שפניה נצתים בסמק חשאי
שאולי לחשי הלילה מתחיכים בזכרונה
-במסרים מתוקים, מאפלולית החום העומם בבשרה
!ואיזו חרות הליכות

איך זה להיות
כמו רקמה אגדית

From: Dina Katan Ben-Zion, Language (HaKibbutz HaMeuchad, Bene Brak, 1997).


Dina Katan was born in 1937 in Yugoslavia and came to Israel at a young age.  She has won several prizes for her translations: most recently in 1990 from the Ministry of Education and Culture; and in 1993 from the Ministry of Science and Art. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Bar Ilan University, writing onThe Feminine Voyage in the Jewish Literature of Postwar Yugoslavia.Dina has published six books of poetry, and translated more than nine authors from Serbo-Croatian into Hebrew. She has also published two scholarly books on the Jews of Yugoslavia.

Miriam Green holds an MA from the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University. Her poetry has appeared in The Prose Poem Project, Voices Israel, Deronda Review, Arc, and Cyclamens and Swords, and is forthcoming in Poetica Magazine. Her poem “Princess of Egypt” won an honorable mention in the 2011 Reuben Rose Poetry Competition, and “Ima Foferet” received a similar mention in the 2012 Reuben Rose competition. Miriam is a 20-year resident of Beer Sheva, Israel, and a mother of three. 

Translator’s Note: Translating Dina’s poetry was an exercise in stretching my understanding of Hebrew, and of finding a kindred spirit. I discovered in her poetry similar images, word usage, and ideas to my own. I was struck by how many of the poems turned inwards, how they presented a topographical map of the soul where tradition is alive, where stones have a memory, where language is born from darkness, and where a woman can image herself as someone else. Katan’s poems also explore external stimuli, such as the blossoming jacaranda, and current events.



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