Photo Credit: Brian Miller

Marcia Falk

Current City, State, Country

Berkeley, California, USA

Birth City, State, Country

New York City, New York, USA


Marcia Falk is a poet, translator, and painter. She received a B.A. in Philosophy magna cum laude from Brandeis and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Stanford. She was a Fulbright Scholar and a postdoctoral fellow in Bible and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University and a professor of literature, creative writing, and Jewish studies at Binghamton University, the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford.

Marcia is known in the progressive Jewish world for her re-creations of Hebrew and English liturgy, in poetic form, from a non-patriarchal perspective. Her bilingual prayer book, The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Holiday, originally published in 1996 and recently released in a 20th anniversary edition by the CCAR Press, is used today by congregations in North America, Europe, and Israel. Excerpts from it appear in the prayer books of all the major non-Orthodox denominations. The Days Between: Blessings, Prayers, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season, published in 2014, and Night of Beginnings: A Passover Haggadah, continued the liturgical project.

In addition to her books of prayer, Marcia Falk has published several volumes of poems and translations from Hebrew and Yiddish. Her translation of the Song of Songs, which first appeared in 1977, is today considered a modern classic. Nobel Laureate I. B. Singer said of it: “I thought until now that the Song of Songs could not be translated better than in the King James Version. Marcia Falk has done an exceptional poetic job. She has great power in her language.” Among the 20th-anniversary poets Falk has translated are the Yiddish modernist Malka Heifetz Tussman and the Hebrew mystic Zelda. Poet Adrienne Rich has written of Falk’s work: “It’s always a thrill when (as rarely happens) the scholar’s mind and the poet’s soul come together.” Marcia Falk’s most recent book is Night of Beginnings: A Passover Haggadah.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

Much of my poetic output has been devoted to the creation of inclusive, nonhierarchical Jewish prayer, composed in poetic form. All my liturgical books contain poems, along with meditative prose poems, and wholly new blessings in poetic forms, in Hebrew and English. Several of these books also contain translations of Hebrew and Yiddish poets.

One of my earliest books was a translation of the Song of Songs, the love poetry of the Bible, from the Hebrew, accompanied by a literary/scholarly commentary. The first edition was published in 1977, and several other editions have been published over the years; the latest edition is still in print. I have also translated many modern Hebrew and Yiddish poets and have published two volumes of these translations.

Published Works

Night of Beginnings: A Passover Haggadah (Jewish Publication Society/University of Nebraska Press, 2022)
Inner East: Illuminated Poems and Blessings (Oak & Acorn Press, 2018)
The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2014)
The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath, and the New Moon Festival (HarperCollins, 1996; paperback edition, Beacon Press, 1999; Twentieth anniversary edition, CCAR Press, 2017)
My Son Likes Weather (Oak & Acorn Press, 2006)
This Year in Jerusalem (State Street Press, 1986)
It Is July in Virginia: A Poem Seq­uence (Rara Avis Press, 1985).

The Spectacular Difference: Selected Poems of Zelda (Hebrew Union College Press, 2004)
The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, 2004)
With Teeth in the Earth: Selected Poems of Malka Heifetz Tussman (Wayne State University Press, 1992)
The Song of Songs: A New Translation and Interpretation (HarperCollins, 1990)
Am I Also You? (Tree Books, 1977)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Independent writer, painter, lecturer


Brandeis University, B.A. in Philosophy
Stanford University, M.A. and PhD in English and Comparative Literature
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Postdoc in Hebrew literature and Bible

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

Hebrew: biblical and modern, Zelda (one book), many other poets; Yiddish: Malka Heifetz Tussman (two volumes; many other poets)

Subject Matter