Mills College Mourns the Loss of Acclaimed Poet and Professor Emerita Chana Bloch

Oakland, CA—May 22, 2017

Professor Emerita Chana Bloch passed away on May 19, 2017 after a prolonged battle with cancer. At Mills from 1973 to 2005, Chana’s powerful teaching and mentoring touched generations of students and faculty. Her work as Department Chair in English and as long-time Director and co-founder of our Creative Writing program has had a lasting impact on the College. Those of us who worked with her remember her as a model of true collegiality, someone with true warmth and a great sense of humor, and an effective leader. She remained deeply connected to Mills after her retirement, returning to give many talks and readings.  

An acclaimed American poet and translator, her website notes she published five collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems, 1980-2015. Bloch was an important translator of Hebrew poetry, particularly the work of Israeli poets Yehuda Amichai and Dahlia Ravikovitch, as well as biblical poetry; her co-translation of the Song of Songs was considered a groundbreaking translation of that ancient text.  Her book awards include the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for Blood Honey; the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry for Mrs. Dumpty; the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, together with Chana Kronfeld, for Open Closed Open (Poems of Yehuda Amichai); and the Book of the Year Award of the Conference on Christianity and Literature for Spelling the Word. Bloch’s work has been published in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, The New Republic, and many literary journals, as well as Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize and other anthologies. A volume of new poems is due out in September; indeed, she was eagerly writing new poems in these last years and months.  

We know the Mills community will mourn Chana’s passing from so many perspectives: as our dear friend, colleague, and major literary figure in American letters.

Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty