People are drawn to different areas of the arts for all sorts of reasons. Yael Globerman has her fingers in all manner of creative pies, including cinema, sculpture, poetry and prose writing, and translating poetry. The fifty-something Tel Aviv resident’s expertise in the latter discipline pertains to translating poems in English – from either side of The Pond – into Hebrew.
This week she will enlighten members of the public about that, about poetry in general, at the annual three-day Poetry Festival, organized by Jerusalem’s Confederation House which starts today in Metulla.
Globerman says she discovered the beauty of the English language rather late in life.
“I had an average command of English, you know, high school-level English. In fact, I was drawn more to French, and I thought that I’d maybe translate from French.”
The switch to English was all down to love.
“My English improved because of a man,” says Gloverman.
“I was married to [American-born actor] Jack Adalist.
We were married 19 years and my English improved a lot during that time,” she notes with a chuckle.
More to the point, for 10 of those 19 years Globerman and Adalist lived in the United States. In fact, she got a head start even before she took up residence in an English-speaking country.
“I lived in Holland for a year and we were surrounded by people from all over the world, so the common language was English. Then we stayed in the United States for a lot longer than we’d planned. You could say that my interest in English began through life, rather than through literature.”
Poetry was not Globerman’s first choice.
“I started writing prose as a young girl,” she says, adding that she was the archetypal bookworm. “I always had my head in a book. My mother used to hide my books to get me to go out to play.”
But it wasn’t only enjoying the fruits of other’s creative talents, and she got a begrudging parental push in the required direction.
“If I pestered my mother she’d pick a letter from the alphabet and ask me to think of story that began with it. I was always like that. You know, there are actors who’ll tell you they were always putting on costumes at home, and they pretended they were actors.”
Globerman says that she actually started creating stories before she could even make out the words.
“I’d take books and look at the pictures. I really loved doing that.”
The prerequisite literary skills were prepped and ready by the time Globerman got to her teens.
“My teacher liked my writing so she sent some of my stories in to [youth newspaper] Ma’ariv Lanoar
. I just loved writing stories.”
Indeed, Globerman made good on her dream and went on to publish Mena’aneah et Haetz (Shaking the Tree) in 1996, a volume of poetry called Alibi and a second poetry book called Oto Hanahar Pa’amayim (The Same River Twice). Her translation work covers a wide swath of source material, including poems by 18th century Romantic poet William Blake, early 20th century Irish poet Yeats and Anglo-American man of letters Auden, and the writing of more contemporary artists such as British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, and Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney.
So it looks like Globerman was always destined to work in the literary field, a view which she wholeheartedly endorses.
“I recently met up with a woman who was in first grade with me, and she says she remembers that, when the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, my classmate said she wanted to be a teacher – you know, one of the usual answers – but I said I wanted to be a writer.”
Despite having her first novel published, Globerman says she has always had a penchant for poetry. “I just couldn’t stand seeing long lines of letters,” she notes. “I remember I was anxiously waiting to hear if my first book was accepted by a publisher. I couldn’t just hang around waiting so I started translating a poem. It was a poem by Auden.”
It was a fruitful distraction and, it seems, did not require too much effort. “I found it easy to translate Auden’s work,” Globerman recalls. “It went really smoothly, the meter and the words. It felt perfectly natural.”
It was only after getting a taste of putting someone else’s poetry into her mother tongue that Globerman began to try her own hand at the craft.
“With me things always work out the other way round,” she says, adding that she never expected to be an instant success. “Someone famous, I can’t remember who, said that waiting for someone to respond to your poetry is liking taking a petal of a rose, and throwing it into the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo.”
In the event, the opposite turned out to be the case.
“I hardly got any response to my novel, but every time I write or translate a poem I get an immediate response, at festivals, around the world. It is wonderful.”
It seems that Globerman found her true calling.For more information about the Poetry Festival: (02) 624-5206 and www.confederationhouse.org