Cole's first book of poems, Rift, was published in 1989, and Hymns & Qualms in 1998. The two volumes were reissued as What is Doubled: Poems 1981-1988.Things on Which I've Stumbled was published in the fall of 2008.
Cole has translated works by the great Hebrew poets of medieval Spain, including Shmuel HaNagid, Solomon Ibn Gabirol. He has also published translations of modern Arabic and Hebrew poets and prose writers, among them Taha Muhammad Ali, Aharon Shabtai, Yoel Hoffmann, Avraham Ben-Yitzhak, and Harold Schimmel.
In 2008, Cole combined and collected Hebrew literary works to create Hebrew Writers on Writing (Trinity University Press) which delves in to their reflections on writing and explores the issues of national, linguistic, and ethinic identity.
Cole is also one of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions, a small literary press based in Jerusalem that publishes English translations of works in Arabic, Hebrew, French, Greek, Ladino, and the other languages of the Levant.
Cole has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan University, and Middlebury College.
Cole believes that "helping things say what they seem to want to say, or are 'bound' to say," is central to his work as an editor and translator. He regards language as sacred, or a reflection of the sacred, and describes care for language as a moral and metaphysical act that "takes one into the weave of being."