ALTER ESELIN (ESSELIN) (April 23, 1889-November 22, 1974)
The adopted name of Ore Serebrenik, he was born in Chernigov, Ukraine, to a father who was a merchant at fairs. At age ten he was orphaned and was raised under the strict supervision of his maternal grandfather. He studied in religious elementary school and the municipal middle school. At thirteen he was for a time an apprentice to a tailor and later he was a carpenter. Active in his youth in socialist revolutionary circles, he was imprisoned and subsequently released. In 1908 he arrived in the United States and worked for several years as a carpenter in Norwich, Connecticut. He later made his way over the length and breadth of the United States. He debuted in print with a poem in Kundes (Prankster) in 1919. From that point, he published poems in: Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor), Frayhayt (Freedom), Di tsayt (The times), Der fraynt (The friend), Dos vort (The word), Tsukunft (Future), Nay-yidish (New Yiddish), Studyo (Studio), Di feder (The pen), Epokhe (Epoch), Oyfkum (Arise), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Getseltn (Tents), and Vayter (Further)—in New York; Mayrev (West) and Zunland (Sun land) in Los Angeles; Ineynem (Altogether), Yung-shikago (Young Chicago), and Literarishe zamlungen (Literary anthologies)—in Chicago; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) and Haynt (Today) in Warsaw; Mir aleyn (We alone) and Der veg (The way) in Kovno; and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain) and Heymish (Familiar) in Tel Aviv. His book-length works include: Knoytn (Wicks), poetry (Chicago: L. M. Shteyn, 1927), 96 pp.; Unter der last (Under the burden), poems (Chicago: Tseshinski, 1936), 140 pp.; Lider fun a midbernik (Poems of a hermit) (Milwaukee, 1954), 118 pp. In 1955 he received the Kovno Prize for that year from the Jewish Book Council of New York. In 1925 he received first prize in a poetry contest in Frayhayt in New York. From 1925 he was living in Milwaukee, where he died.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; A. Mukdoni, in Morgn-zhurnal (New York) (June 3, 1936); Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (June 14, 1936); Niger, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (May 23, 1955); Y. Botoshanksi, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (August 1936); Kh. Krul, in Indzl (Bucharest) (August 15, 1936); V. Natanzon, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (April 9, 1937); Ezra Korman, in Idisher kemfer (December 20, 1940); Y. Rapaport, in Davke (Buenos Aires) 13 (1952); A. Leyeles, in Tog (June 5, 1954); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (July 9, 1954); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 21 (1955); N. Mayzil, Amerike in yidishn vort antologye (America in Yiddish, an anthology) (New York: Ikuf, 1955).
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 417.]