Israeli poet to hold reading, lecture

By: Maddie Day ~Staff Writer~

The Department of English will partner with Xavier’s Jewish Studies program to host Rachel Tzvia Back, an Israeli poet, translator and peace activist from Israel.

Back will be hosting two events during the week of Sept. 8. The first event will feature a poetry reading by Back herself. She will also host a lecture on another Hebrew poet, Tuvia Ruebner.

Back’s lecture, called “Illuminating the Dark: the Poetry & Poetics of Tuvia Ruebner,” will shed light on the central themes and principles of Ruebner’s poetry.

Ruebner is considered a prolific voice of the Holocaust generation. His work was written in protest of the difficulties faced in the Middle East. At the age of 17, Ruebner lost his parents, sisters and grandparents in the Holocaust.

Back recently published a translation of Ruebner’s poetry in collaboration with Hebrew Union College Press.
The translation, titled “In the Illuminated Dark: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner,” is the first time Ruebner’s work has appeared in English.
Back also published a volume of her own original work titled “A Messenger Comes” in 2012. This work was written as a book of elegies dedicated to Back’s father and sister.

“Rachel Tzvia Back’s reading and lecture will be unique literary events,” Dr. Norman Finkelstein, an English professor with expertise in modern Jewish literature, said. “She understands the power of literature to change hearts and minds.”
Back has received numerous awards for her work including a PEN Translation grant, a Hadassah-Brandeis Research Grant and a Dora Maar Brown Foundation Fellowship.

She currently works as a professor of English literature at Oranim Academic College in Israel.
Back’s poetry reading will be at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 in Logan Hall, room 100. The lecture will be held at 4 p.m. on Sept. 10 and will also take place in Logan Hall, room 100.

Both the poetry reading and lecture events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Norman Finkelstein at