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Small Bibles for Bad Times: Selected Poems and Prose by Liliane Atlan

Translated from the French by Marguerite Feitlowitz — a bilingual edition

PUBLICATION DATE: March 21, 2021
A co-publication of Dryad Press and Mandel Vilar Press
174 pp., 5.5 x 8.5 inches, Paperback (French Flaps). ISBN: 978-1-9421340-68-8
$21.95 USD | postage free within the U.S.

“Having Liliane Atlan’s work in this bilingual edition with Marguerite Feitlowitz’s elegant translations, is a valuable gift to the English-speaking world of experimental literature.” Alice Ostriker

For Liliane Atlan (1932-2012), visionary French writer of plays, poetry, and prose, the creative quest was to “find a language to say the unsayable. . . to [find a way] to integrate within our conscience, without dying in the attempt, the shattering experience of Auschwitz.” In hiding in Vichy France during WWII, she was immersed in study after the war in Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah and emerged as a genre-defying writer, a feminist, and a political activist in both France and Israel.

In poems and prose, dramatic elements abound: scenes and vignettes; scoring for voices; desires, plots and characters engaged in mortal conflict, sometimes within a single mind. Especially in the poems, much depends on cadence, breath, and beat. Ritual is interrogated even as it is performed; conventional wisdoms are discarded, mocked and mutilated; study is sacred, belief suspect — genuine lessons exist to be learned the hard way. The mundane and cosmic, the devotional and defiant, the lyric and political jostle, subvert, and re-create each other. From murderous history, Atlan wrested a body of work that is radiant with life.

YouTube: On Liliane Atlas | Theater, Poetry, Prose, Holocaust, Feminism
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“Liliane Atlan’s poems are as personal as dreams and as public as history. Wry, spare, flickering with wit, they are also resonant, authoritative, weighted with centuries of what Atlan calls ‘the wisdom that is not inscribed,’ that ‘makes written notes inexhaustible.’” Rachel Hadas, her most recent book, Poems for Camilla. 

“Only a life lived on the edge such as Liliane Atlan’s could have given rise to these highly original poems, at once manic and tragic, electrifying and poignant.” Hoyt Rogers, writer and translator from the French, German, Italian, and Spanish

 “Liliane Altlan writes both prose and poetry with the beauty and brilliance of lyric, the bite of epigram, the passion of an idealist fighting to survive in a brutal world.  In the colloquies of great poets held in the next world, I imagine her seated with her peers — perhaps at a table with Kafka, Bob Dylan and Emily Dickinson. “ Alicia Ostriker, author of books of poetry and prose, most recently, The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems, 2002-2019.

Translator Marguerite Feitlowitz is the author of A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture, a New York Times Notable Book and Finalist for the PEN-Winship Prize. In addition to translating Liliane Atlan’s major plays, Theatre Pieces: An Anthology, edited by Bettina Knapp, Feitlowitz has also translated, from the Spanish, the work of Griselda Gambaro, Luisa Valenzuela, Salvador Novo, and Ennio Moltedo. Her many awards include two Fulbrights to Argentina, a Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute Fellowship (now the Radcliffe Institute), and a 2020 NEA Literary Translation Fellowship. She teaches at Bennington College where she is the Founding Director of Bennington Translates, a multi-disciplinary initiative on literary and humanitarian translation in the context of forced displacement, exile, and collective crisis.