AVROM-BER TABATSHNIK (TABACHNICK) (August 16, 1901-June 13, 1970)
He was born in the village of Nizhny Altshedaev, raised there and in the village of Konotkovits, Mohilev-Podolsk district, Ukraine. He studied in religious elementary school and with private tutors in Shargorod (Sharhorod) and Luchinets, graduating from a Russian middle school in Mohilev-Podolsk. He moved to the United States in 1921, settled in Waterbury, and in 1922 graduated from high school there. Over the years 1925-1936, he worked as a teacher in Workmen’s Circle schools in Erie, Pennsylvania and the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston. He spent 1936-1938 employed on United States Work Projects (W.P.A.) and with the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia which was published by the Projects. He served as a member of the editorial board of Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), 1928-1940, in Philadelphia. From 1941 he was an internal contributor to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (ITA) in America. He first began writing lyrical poetry in Russian, later switching to Yiddish. He debuted in print in Der proletarisher gedank (The proletarian idea) in New York in 1923, and from that point he wrote poems, critical essays, literary treatments, and journalistic and current events articles for: Oyfgang (Arise), Tsukunft (Future), Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), Der veker (The alarm), Der tog (The day), Bodn (Terrain), Studyo (Studio), Signal (Signal), Masn (Masses), Fayln (Arrows), and Zamlbikher (Collections—no. 6), among others—all in New York; Literarishe zamlungen (Literary anthologies), Shikago (Chicago), and Brikn (Bridges)—in Chicago; Di idishe velt in Philadelphia; Tint un feder (Ink and pen) in Toronto; and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) in Tel Aviv; among others. He compiled the anthology, Di shtim fun yidishn poet (The voice of a Yiddish poet), in which he immortalized over twenty Yiddish poets in America—on a recorded electronic tape—in the form of questions and answers, which afforded it a character both from the poets’ own creations and the actual poetic issues of Yiddish work in general (several of the “questions and answers” were published in Tsukunft and Idisher kemfer in New York). He also participated in the compilation of two volumes of Mani Leyb’s Lider un baladn (Poems and ballads) (New York, 1955). In book form, poetry: In sheyd (In the sheath) (New York, 1936), 63 pp.; and Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1949), 71 pp.; critical monographic essays: Der man fun lid, vegn zishe landoy (The man of the poem, on Zishe Landau), with three poetic dedications to Zishe Landau (New York, 1941), 60 pp.; Abe shtoltsenberg (Aba Shtoltsenberg), including the poem “Baym keyver fun abe shtoltsenberg” (By the grave of Aba Shtoltsenberg) and several biographical notices (New York, 1951), 64 pp.; Der mentsh in kholem, di dikhtung fun meyer shtiker (Man in dream, the poetry of Meyer Shtiker) (New York, 1962), 46 pp.; Dikhter un dikhtung, essays (New York, 1965), 511 pp. He also published and edited (with Shtoltsenberg, M. Shtiker, and Kh. N. Fisherman) three anthologies of Fayln (New York, 1928-1931), and (with Meyer Shtiker) the quarterly journal Vogshol (Scales) 1 and 2 (1959). He published in various magazines and collections critical essays on L. Shapiro, Yehoash, Y. Rolnik, Moyshe Nadir, B. Vaynshteyn, Moyshe-Leyb Halpern, and many others. Tabatshnik’s poetry was translated into Polish by Dvore Fogel and published in Chwila (Moment) in Lemberg (1936)
Critics have considered him among the most important representatives of Neo-Impressionism in Yiddish literature. “His essay is a specimen of classical criticism,” wrote Shmuel Niger about Tabatshnik’s book Der man fun lid, “exalted and to the point. It is full of internal exaggerations—and yet precise. Hymns without any exalted words.” Concerning his book Opsheyd lider, Niger wrote: “The poet Tabatshnik is stingy with words and poems, though he is rich in his love for them…. The poet of the quiet, courteous, sincere—and on another occasion inspired by literature and authentic poetic difference.” “Tabatshnik’s essay is truly a classic,” wrote Melekh Ravitsh about his book Abe shtoltenberg; “written with calmness, it has the form to include the maximum. It has the tact and the style, written to be a book and not to be published in fragments in newspapers. It is chiseled as one piece, shot through with love and understanding.” He also wrote under the pen names: A. M. Shafir, Tess, and others. He died in New York.
Sources: Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (November 20, 1935; March 26, 1941); Z. Vaynper, in Oyfkum (New York) (February 1936); M. Kats, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (March 22, 1936; January 14, 1940); M. Saktsyer, in Shoybn (Bucharest) (May 1936); M. Birnboym, in Signal (New York) (May 1936); D. Tsharni (Daniel Charney), in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (July 31, 1936); Shmuel Niger, in Der tog (New York) (August 23, 1936; November 8, 1941; October 10, 1943; October 24, 1943; October 31, 1943; April 16, 1950); Niger, Kritik un kritiker (Criticism and critics) (Buenos Aires, 1959), pp. 156-62; Elye Shulman, in Proletarisher gedank (New York) (November 15, 1936); Y. Glants, in Der veg (Mexico City) (July 10, 1937); Y. Botoshanski, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (July 12, 1938); Moyshe Shtarkman, in Der tog (February 15, 1941); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (March 31, 1941); N. B. Minkov, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (August 29, 1941); Alef Kats, in Havaner lebn (Havana, Cuba) (April 1, 1942); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949), pp. 211-12; M. Ravitsh, in Tsukunft (Future) (February-March 1953); Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (July 1, 1957); Der Lebediker, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (July 1, 1956); E. Fershleyser, Af shrayberishe shlyakhn, kritishe eseyen (On writerly paths, critical essay) (New York, 1958), pp. 164-70; Mina Bordo-Rivkin, Lider un iberblikn (Poems and overviews) (Buenos Aires, 1958), pp. 63-66; Sh. D. Zinger, Dikhter un prozaiker (Poet and prose writer) (New York, 1959), pp. 113-21; B. Rivkin, Yidishe dikhter in amerike (Yiddish poets in America) (Buenos Aires, 1959), pp. 268-78; Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 2 (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 253-58; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1943), p. 152.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 274.]