Falk, Marcia

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FALK, MARCIA (1946– ), U.S. poet, translator, and liturgist. Falk was born in New York City and grew up in New Hyde Park, n.y. During her childhood, she began painting (becoming a life member of the Art Students League in Manhattan), writing poetry, and studying Hebrew. She received her B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Brandeis University and both her M.A. in English and her Ph.D. in English and comparative literature from Stanford University. Falk was a Fulbright Scholar and a postdoctoral fellow in Bible and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught at Stanford, the State University of New York at Binghamton, and the Claremont Colleges. In 2001 she held the Priesand Chair in Jewish Women's Studies at huc-jir in Cincinnati.

Falk won international acclaim for her translation of the Song of Songs, originally published in 1977 and subsequently released in several editions, most recently as The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible (2004). Her translation, which made lavish use of assonance and alliteration and interpreted obscure images for modern readers, represented a radical departure from earlier translations. In 1996 Falk published The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival, a groundbreaking prayer book. The Book of Blessings contains new, egalitarian Hebrew and English blessings, along with poems and meditations, as alternatives to the traditional Jewish liturgy. Falk offers nongendered non-anthropomorphic epithets of the divine, such as "source of life" and "breath of all living things."

Falk translated the Yiddish poet Malka *Tussman, With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman (1992), and the Israeli mystical poet *Zelda, The Spectacular Difference (2004). Falk's own vision, characterized by clarity and quietude, is evident in her two published poetry collections, It Is July in Virginia: A Poem Sequence (1985) and This Year in Jerusalem (1986).


L. Day, "In the Hidden Garden: Two Translations of the Song of Songs," in: The Hudson Review, 48/2 (1995), 259–69; D. Ellenson, "Marcia Falk's The Book of Blessings: The Issue Is Theological," in: ccar Journal (Spring 2000), 18–23; L. Hoffman, "Marcia Falk's The Book of Blessings," in: Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History, 19/1 (1999), 87–93.

[Lucille Lang Day (2nd ed.)]