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November 5: Abraham Liessin and The Future

Socialist poet and editor Abraham Liessin (Walt) died at 68 on this date in 1938. He was a well-known socialist writer in Minsk, Belorussia, and came in 1896 to New York, where he worked as writer and editor for the newly-founded Jewish Daily Forward. Liessin was active in the Social Labor Party as a fierce […]

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May 30: Itsik Manger

Yiddish poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist Itsik Manger, for whom Israel’s Manger Prize for Yiddish literature was established in 1968, was born in Czernowitz, Romania on this date in 1901. Manger came to Warsaw in 1927, published his first book of poems in 1929 (Stars on the Roof), and became the toast of Yiddish Warsaw’s […]

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Great Women of Yiddish Poetry

by Ellen Cassedy From the Spring, 2015 issue of Jewish Currents Reviewed in this Essay: A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987, by Kathryn Hellerstein. Stanford University Press, 2014, 512 pages. The Acrobat: Selected Poems of Celia Dropkin, translated by Faith Jones, Jennifer Kronovet, and Samuel Solomon. Tebot Bach, New World Translation Series, […]

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Mameloshn: Tuberculosis and the Yiddish Poets

by Murray Citron Reviewed in this essay: Yiddish Poetry and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium 1900-1970 by Ernest B. Gilman. Syracuse University Press, 2015, 187 pages. ACADEMIC WRITERS OFTEN LIKE making a synthesis, that is, putting topics together in an unexpected way. Professor Ernst B. Gilman, who has taught at Columbia and the University of Virginia, and […]

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Mameloshn: Poems about Nature, #3

To the Sun, by Pessi Hirwschfeld-Pomerantz Translated by Barnett Zumoff Sun, O sun! I’d like to wander in the open fields and drink up the light all day, so my eyes would radiate your light, your warmth. Between narrow walls my eyes look dull. Between narrow walls I speak angrily to people — the path […]

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People of the Book 101: Reuben Iceland and Di Yunge

by Murray Citron Reviewed in this essay: From Our Springtime, Literary Memoirs and Portraits of Yiddish New York, by Reuben Iceland, translated from Yiddish by Gerald Marcus. Syracuse University Press, 2013, 263 pages.   In the first ten years of the 20th century, a number of young Yiddish poets and other writers, born in Eastern […]

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Mameloshn: Yiddish Poems About Nature, #1

Spring, by Tsilye Dropkin Translated by Barnett Zumoff SPRING in the evening, the sky kissed the dark meadow, and when night came, the sky lay upon the meadow, pressed his hot breast against the earth, and nourished her all night with the fluids from his body. In the morning, the sky spun out sunshine upon […]

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December 23: H. Leyvik and the Golem

Poet and playwright H. Leyvik (Leyvik Halpern), author of The Golem, one of Yiddish literature’s most famous plays, died shortly before his seventy-fourth birthday on this date in 1962. Leivick was a yeshiva bokher (a religious student) before joining the Jewish Labor Bund and participating in the 1905 revolution in Russia, which landed him in […]

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Mameloshn: “Elijah in Shul” by Mani Leyb

Translated by Barnett Zumoff Mani Leyb (1883-1953) was the greatest and most characteristic poet of Di Yunge, the group of mostly young, lyrical Yiddish poets who preceded and overlapped with the Introspectivist movement in Yiddish poetry. Leyb is credited with refining and purifying the Yiddish language to make it a suitable vehicle for sophisticated poetry. “Elijah […]

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