BENYOMEN ROZENBLUM (December 16, 1872-June 2, 1902)
He was a poet, born in Grodno. His father died when he was young, and his family of eight children moved to Brest-Litovsk. In 1887 he learned the locksmith trade in a philanthropical trade school. In 1891 he made his way to the United States where he took up various trades, lived in great want, and at the same time studied. He took classes in the agricultural school in Woodbine, New Jersey. He graduated as a civil engineer from Rutgers College in New Brunswick. He received a good municipal position in Brooklyn but suffered from a stomach ailment which led to his premature death. In 1892 he began to publish poetry in London’s Arbayter fraynd (Workers’ friend), as well as in Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor) and Tsukunft (Future) in New York. His most productive year was with poetry. He was one of the poetry pioneers in America. His work appeared in: Frayhayt (Freedom) (1905); the anthology Blumen un funken (Flowers and sparks) (1906); Di fraye harfe (The free harp) (Warsaw, 1907); Morris Basin’s 500 yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry) (New York, 1917); and Nakhmen Mayzil’s Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955). He also wrote a pair of Hebrew poems for G. Rozentsvayg’s Haivri (The Jew). “Rozenblum was through and through,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “a social poet. As far as he was concerned, there was no poem that should lack for social content. A poem might even be lyrical or individualist, even ethnic….[as long as] at its core it was authentic and rich in theme, motif, rhythm, and general form…. A precursor of modern, especially of modernist, poetry.” He died in New York.
Sources: Elye (Elias) Shulman, Geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in amerike (History of Yiddish literature in America) (New York, 1943), pp. 174-76; N. B. Minkov, Pyonern fun der yidisher poezye in amerike, dos sotsyale lid (Pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America, the social poem), vol. 2 (New York, 1956), pp. 9-48; Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).