KHAYIM PET (CHAIM PETT) (May 17, 1900-June 26, 1959)
He was born in Volpe (Wołpa), Grodno region, Poland. He studied in religious primary school and in a Russian elementary school. At age fifteen he began to write poetry. He debuted in print in the Vilna youth journal Der khaver (The friend). He also published in the journal Mustern fun idisher poezye (Specimens of Yiddish poetry). At the time of the German occupation during WWI, he performed forced labor. In 1922 he made his way to the United States where he worked in a shop making leather purses, while at the same time studying in the teachers’ seminary at the Workmen’s Circle. From 1922 he began publishing stories, novellas, and miniatures in: Frayhayt (Freedom), Yung-kuznye (Young smithy), Der amerikaner (The American), Di feder (The pen), Tog (Day), Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), Forverts (Forward), Tsukunft (Future), Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), and Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York—and elsewhere. He was co-editor of all five issues of Yung-kuznye and editor of three issues of Idish lebn (Jewish life) in New York. In book form: Tsvishn fayern, kurtse dertseylungen (Amid fires, short stories) (New York, 1937), 192 pp.; A hoyz afn feld, noveln (A house in the field, stories) (New York, 1940), 125 pp.; Opgezungene teg, dertseylungen (Days dismissed, stories) (New york, 1947), 255 pp.; Fun hodson biz yardn, dertseylungen un bilder in minyatur (From the Hudson [River] to the Jordan [River], stories and images in miniature) (New York: Brider Shulzinger, 1953), 168 pp.; In land fun di oves, novele (In the land of the forefathers, a novella) (New York, 1957), 148 pp. He spent a lengthy period of time in the state of Israel. Pett was of the modern generation of Yiddish prose writers, who entered American Yiddish literature after WWI. He was mainly a miniaturist. He died in New York.
“Pett goes away and looks,” wrote Yankev Glatshteyn, “and he takes what his eyes fall on and jots it down with a lyrical mood. Although he has also written longer items in volume, longer stories and even a novella, more often than not he comes to us as the miniaturist, the writer who feels comfortable in a tight image, but in a shorter notation. He has created for himself his own style.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Elye (Elias) Shulman, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (1937); B. Rivkin, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (1937); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949), p. 226; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (July 31, 1953); Y. Hesheles, in Vayter (New York) (September-October 1953); A. Gordin, in Fraye arbeter-shtime (New York) (January 29, 1954); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 17, 1957); E. Fershlayser, Af shrayberishe shlyakhn, kritishe eseyen (In writers’ battles, critical essays) (New York, 1958), pp. 213-15; Meylekh Ravitsh, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (July 6, 1959); Sh. D. Zinger, Dikhter un prozaiker (Poet and prose writer) (New York, 1959), pp. 217-23.