YOYSEF PAPYERNIKOV (June 22, 1899-1993)
The brother of Leyvi Papyernikov, he was born in Warsaw, Poland. (David Tidhar—in his in Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950), p. 1601—gives a birth date of January 21, 1897.) He studied in religious elementary school and in a Russian high school. For a time he sang in the choirboy with the cantor Gershon Sirota. In the years of WWI, he was held in German forced labor in Lithuania; thereafter he lived in Warsaw, and in 1924 he made aliya to the land of Israel. His first years there, he worked on highways, construction work, and on the land. Over the years 1929-1933, he lived in Poland. Later, as before, he settled in Israel. He was among the founders of Yiddish literature in Israel and a fighter for rights of the Yiddish language there. From his youth he was tied to the Zionist socialist labor movement, and he became the poet of a laboring Israel. He debuted in print with a poem, “Dos feld” (The field), in Y. M. Vaysnberg’s Zamlbikher (Collections) (Warsaw) 4 (1918). He later published lyrical and revolutionary poetry, stories and essays about writers in: Arbeter tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper), Arbeter velt (Workers’ world), Di yugnt fon (The youth banner), Der nayer dor (The new generation), Fraye yugnt (Free youth), Bafrayung (Liberation), and Frayhayt (Freedom), among others. From 1920 he published regularly in: Haynt (Today), Der khodesh (The month), Moment (Moment), and the anthology Afn veg (On the road), among others, in Warsaw. He later contributed work to: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Der shtrom (The current), Inzer hofening (Our hope), and other serials in Warsaw; Oyfgang (Arise), S’feld (The field), and Vegn (Paths), among others, in Lodz; Far groys un kleyn (For big and small) in Tel Aviv; Amerikaner (American) in New York; Kultur (Culture), Shikage (Chicago), and others as well. From 1923 he was placing work in: Di fon (The banner), Nay velt (New world), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Fray yisroel (Free Israel), Yisroel shtime (Voice of Israel), Heymish (Familiar), Lebns-fragn (Life issues), Yisroel-shriftn (Israeli writings), Davar (Word), Lemerḥav (Into the open), Al hamishmar (On guard), and Hapoel hatsair (Young worker), among others. He was a regular contributor to Letste nayes (Latest news) in Tel Aviv, in which, aside from poetry, he published memoirs and treatments of Yiddish writers, mainly those murdered in the Holocaust in Poland. He also wrote for: Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), Tsukunft (Future), Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), and others in New York; Naye prese (New Press), Arbeter velt, Unzer vort (Our word), and others in Paris; Folksshtime (Voice of the people) and Arbeter vort (Workers’ word), among others, in Poland; and Dorem afrike (South Africa) in Johannesburg; among others. His poetry appeared in: Shimshon Meltser’s anthology of Yiddish poetry [in Hebrew translation], Al naharot, tisha maḥazore shira misifrut yidish (By the rivers, nine cycles of poetry from Yiddish) (Jerusalem, 1956); Mortkhe Yofe’s Erets-yisroel in der yidisher literatur (Israel in Yiddish literature) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961); Moshe Basok’s Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selections of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); and Joseph Leftwich’s English anthology, The Golden Peacock: An Anthology of Yiddish Poetry (London, 1939); among others. On several occasions, Papyernikov visited France, Belgium, and England, and in 1952 South Africa where he gave talks and read from his poetry. His many books include: In zunikn land, palestine lider (In a sunny country, Palestinian poetry) (Warsaw: Naye kultur, 1927), 80 pp.; Royt af shvarts, lider (Red on black, poetry) (Warsaw: Naye kultur, 1929), 74 pp.; Goldene zamdn (Golden sands), poems (Warsaw, 1932), 84 pp.; Mit lender glaykh, palestiner lider (Just life other countries, Palestinian poems) (Tel Aviv, 1934), 64 pp.; Di fir un tsvantsikste sho, lider (The twenty-fourth hour, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1935), 76 pp.; Far mir un far ale (For me and everyone) (Tel Aviv, 1936), 76 pp.; Onvuks, lider (Growth, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1938), 76 pp.; Untern fayer, lider (Under the fire, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1938), 60 pp.; Fun roytn front (From the red front), poems (Tel Aviv: Shtamen, 1943), 32 pp.; Unter shvartse himlen (Under black skies), poems (Tel Aviv, 1944), 32 pp.; Mayn brenendiker shtam (My burning people), poems (Tel Aviv, 1945), 64 pp.; Fun ershtn shnit, 1918-1928 (From the first crop, 1918-1928) (Tel Aviv, 1946), 64 pp.; Heymvey, varshe, tel aviv, pariz (Homesick: Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Paris), poems (Tel Aviv, 1946), 58 pp.; Geklibene lider, fun heym, bunt, krig un khurbn (Selected poems, from home, rebellion, war, and destruction) (New York: IKUF, 1948), 260 pp.; Iberblayb, 1918-1925, varshe-tel-aviv (Survival, 1918-1925, Warsaw-Tel Aviv) (Tel Aviv, 1949), 64 pp.; An elnt hoyz, un andere dertseylungen (A solitary house and other stories) (Tel Aviv, 1950), 64 pp.; Frukht fun vint, geklibene lider (Fruit from the wind, selected poems) (Johannesburg, 1952), 168 pp., second edition (Tel Aviv, 1980), 92 pp.; Dos land fun tsveytn breyshes, erets-yisroel-lider un poemen (The land of the second creation, poems from the land of Israel) (Tel Aviv, 1954), 224 pp., enlarged edition (Tel Aviv, 1964), 260 pp.; Fun mayn shir hashirim (From my song of songs) (Tel Aviv, 1955), 100 pp., improved edition, Mayn shir hashirim, lider fun libshaft (My song of song, poems of love) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1966), 124 pp.; Heymishe un noente, demonungen (Familiar and close at hand, remembrances) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1958), 368 pp.; Di zun hinter mir (The sun behind me) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), 155 pp.; Iber khurves (Over ruins), poetry (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1967), 108 pp.; In likht fun fargang, lider (In light of the past, poems) (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1969), 146 pp.; Yerusholaim in yidishn lid, antologye (Jerusalem in Yiddish poetry, anthology) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973), 201 pp.; Fun alts tsu bislekh (From everything to little bits), poetry (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1974), 200 pp.; In vaysn elter, lider (In my white old age) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1976), 124 pp.; Mayn antologye (My anthology) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1978), 198 pp.; Di grine rase, lider (The green race, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Doyer, 1983), 92 pp.; Banayung, lider (Renewal, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1985), 142 pp.; In a nay likht, lider (In a new light, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1987), 142 pp.; Boym un vald, lider (Tree and forest, poetry) (Tel Aviv: H. Leivick Publ., 1988), 77 pp. He also published a volume of his translations of the Russian poet Sergey Yesenin: Sergey Yesenin, geklibene lider (Sergey Yesenin, selected poems) (Warsaw, 1933), 85 pp. A significant number of Papyernikov’s poems were translated into Hebrew in the anthologies: Min hatene, shirim (From the basket, poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1942), 96 pp.; and Pri gani, shirim (The fruit of my garden, poetry), with an introduction by Professor Dov Sadan (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1962), 190 pp. He received awards named for Tsvi Kessel, Leyb Hofer, Essur, and from the Jewish Culture Congress for his work. On the fortieth anniversary of his literary life, there was published 40 yor papyernikov in erets-yisroel (Forty years of Papyernikov in the land of Israel) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1965), 134 pp.
“He uses in his poetry,” wrote Moyshe Gros-Tsimerman, “simple words, and for a portion of his poems, the poet has adapted melodies himself. Like soaring tunes in a void—they are improved in Papyernikov’s poem. With a pure tear in one’s voice as befits a moral bit—and the verses are by no means silent—they always ‘mean’ something, and what they mean they explain…. It happens that in his distrust of the reader’s experiential talent, Papyernikov offers a bit of a didactic parable for poetic illustration…. There is an atmosphere of naïve, poignant folksinging around the poems of Yoysef Papyernikov—and for a portion of them, even the most refined of them, a romantic mandolin is needed, perhaps an ancient lyre, which rings with the tremulous tenor of the fractures in the world.”
Papyernikov (left); with S. L. Shneiderman and Abraham Lis in Palestine (1937)
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 1 (Montreal, 1945), pp. 159-61, vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958), pp. 309-12; D. Tidhar, Entsiklopedyah leḥalutse hayishuv uvonav (Encyclopedia of the pioneers and builders of the yishuv), vol. 4 (Tel Aviv, 1950), p. 1601-2; N. Mayzil, Tsvishn khurbn un oyfboy, bagegenishn, ayndrukn un batrakhtungen, fun a rayze iber eyrope un erets-yisroel (Between destruction and reconstruction, encounters, impressions, and considerations from a trip through Europe and the land of Israel) (New York, 1947), p. 217; Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), see index; B. Mark, in Yidishe shriftn (Warsaw) (March 1949); Y. Kornhendler, A gast fun yener velt (A guest from the other world) (Paris, 1955), pp. 89-92; B. Kutsher, Geven amol varshe (As Warsaw once was) (Paris, 1955); Dr. A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (March 1955); Sh. Slutski, Avrom reyzen-biblyografye (Avrom Reyzen’s bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4991; Yankev Pat, Shmuesn mit shrayber in yisroel (Conversations with writers in Israel) (New York, 1960), pp. 200-10; Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 276-78; Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartogbikher (With my journals) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1963), pp. 53-61; Y. Varshavski (Bashevis), in Forverts (New York) (May 14, 1961); Y. Gar and F. Fridman, Biblyografye fun yidishe bikher vegn khurbn un gvure (Bibliography of Yiddish books concerning the Holocaust and heroism) (New York, 1962), see index; Moyshe Gros-Tsimerman, Intimer videranand (Intimate contrasts) (Tel Aviv, 1964), pp. 287-94; Kadia Molodowsky, in Svive (New York) (October 1965); 40 yor papyernikov in erets-yisroel (Forty years of Papyernikov in the land of Israel) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1965); M. Ḥalamish, in Mikan umikarov (From here and from nearby) (Merḥavya, 1966), with a biography.
Khayim Leyb Fuks
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 426-27.]