Chana Bloch, a major figure in American letters through her poetry, translations of Hebrew and Yiddish, and scholarship in English literature at Mills College, has died after a four-year battle with an aggressive sarcoma — which she wrote and spoke about with searing honesty through her final days.The book unflinchingly plumbs the uncertainties and complexities of Ms. Bloch’s own terminal illness with wit, insight and tenderness.“She was always so open to feedback and changes and welcomed criticism of every word choice in both her poetry and in our translation,” said Chana Kronfeld, a UC Berkeley professor who collaborated with Bloch on two books.Ms. Bloch’s awards include the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (with Kronfeld), two prestigious Pushcart Prizes and an award from the Poetry Society of America.At Mills, where Ms. Bloch was a professor in the department of English, she taught courses in literature and poetry from 1973 to 2005.“Chana embodied the bridge between literary studies and creative writing through her own distinguished scholarship and poetry,” said Cynthia Scheinberg, a professor of English and associate provost at Mills.Even after her retirement in 2005, she often returned to Mills to give guest lectures and poetry readings, always well attended.“Hearing her talk about a biblical translation from a feminist point of view was a transformative experience for the students,” said Scheinberg.“Memento Mori,” a poem from her forthcoming collection, was published by the New Yorker and addressed her health.“God blessed you with curly hair,” my mother used to say and dressed me like Shirley Temple.Peter Sussman, a writer and friend who helped arrange the Ashby Village reading, is overseeing a documentary of that reading — and Ms. Bloch’s frank discussion during it, of her cancer fight — to be released in conjunction with the book’s publication.“For many years before her final illness, she had been fascinated by how people overcame disability, death and other life challenges,” Sussman said.Two months ago, excited at having just sent her book to a printer and optimistic about her medical progress, Ms. Bloch told The Chronicle she felt writing so openly about the specter of death was not a choice.“She was vibrant and caring, and intellectually curious,” said Benjamin, noting that the big family tradition was attending the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival (now Cal Shakes), just a few blocks from home.After retiring from the Mills faculty, she continued to work on her poetry and translations and kept busy and active even after she became ill.Sam Whiting and Kevin Fagan are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers.
NYS Entity Status
NYS Filing Date
APRIL 14, 2014
NYS DOS ID#
NYS Entity Type
DOMESTIC NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION
2014 - GREAT ENLIGHTENMENT TEMPLE ASSOCIATION
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