MEYER SHTIKER (August 4, 1905-July 8, 1983)
He was a poet, born in Boyberik (Bibrka), Galicia. He attended religious elementary school and a school with German as the language of instruction. Over the years 1914-1918, his family lived in Vienna and Bohemia, later returning to Bibrka. He was member of Hashomer Hatsayir (The young pioneer). In early 1920 he arrived in the United States. He worked in the furrier business and simultaneously studied in middle school. From 1945 he was a news editor at Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal), later at Tog-morgn-zhurnal (Day-morning journal), and over the years 1971-1979 with Forverts (Forward). At the latter he also wrote articles. In 1924 he debuted in print with two poems (one of them written with Arn Shtoltsenberg) and an article of criticism (in Yung-kuznye [Young furrier] 2); and in 1925 he published a story (Yung-kuznye 3). He contributed poems and translations to: Inzl (Island) (1925), the final issue of Shriftn (Writings) (1925-1926), Oyfkum (Arise), Getseltn (Tents), Epokhe (Epoch), Forverts, Idisher kemfer (Jewish fighter), and Di goldene keyt (The golden chain). He translated poems by T. S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Rimbaud, Julian Tuwim, Osip Mandelshtam, and others. With Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik and Arn Shtoltsenberg, he brought out the journal Fayln (Arrows) in New York (2 issues, 1928), and with Tabatshnik, Vogshol (Scales) in New York (2 issues, 1959). He died in New York.
His works include: Lider (Poems) (New York: Amerike, 1945), 126 pp.; Yidishe landshaft (Yiddish landscape) (New York, 1958), 173 pp.; Der kholem iz mayn eydes (The dream is my witness) (New York: Der kval, 1965), 111 pp.; Yidishe landshaft II (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1970), 151 pp. Book-length translations: Ernest Hemingway, Der alter un der yam (The Old Man and the Sea) (New York: Der kval, 1958), 135 pp.; Nelly Sachs, Geklibene lider, oykh bilder fun der dramatisher poeme “eli” (Selected poems, also scenes from her dramatic poem “My God”) (New York: Tsiko, 1967), 80 pp. His works appeared in: Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1969). He received literary prizes named for Lamed (1958), the Jewish Book Council in America (1973), Yankev Glatshteyn (1975), and Itzik Manger (1978).
“Together with M. L. Halpern—and other Yiddish poets who hailed from Galicia—M. Shtiker,” wrote Shmuel Niger, “is not terribly bitter, but bitter sweet; cynically sentimental in order to maintain his sweetness; cynical to mask the sentimentality. Together with M. L. Halpern, with his fellow [Galician] compatriot Abe Shtoltsenberg who died prematurely, and with others, Shtiker was on the one hand a folkish primitive poet, while on the other hand he was a modern sophisticate.”
“In all of his poems,” noted Yankev Glatshteyn, “one can…detect a distinctive consciousness that he ought not rush the language in the poem. Even in his most dreamy of poems, there is a clarity that disciplines the language. Individual attention to language is the best sign of a poet, whose poems are not light on the scales.”
“In the full-sounding chorus of Yiddish poetry over the last forty years…on American terrain,” commented Arn Leyeles, “Meyer Shtiker’s poetry is perhaps the most lyrical, the most subjectivist. The same ‘I’ struggles to find expression…. In Meyer Shtiker’s poetic work,…[there is] a ongoing search, a search for—self.”
“Shtiker’s knowledge of world poetry…is most vividly apparent,” wrote Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, “in the elegance of his style, in his cultivated taste. He is in general a poet of considerable culture and erudition. Although he is associated with those poets to whom the light comes spontaneously, never is his treatment of the material in his poetry instinctively raw.”
Sources: Shmuel Niger, in Tog (New York) (November 4, 1945); Mendl Naygreshl, in Tsukunft (New York) (December 1945); Leyzer Grinberg, in Tsukunft (May-June 1959); Shimen-Dovid Zinger, in Undzer veg (New York) (September 1959); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence), vol. 2 (Buenos Aires, 1960), pp. 273-79; Glatshteyn, In der velt mit yidish, eseyen (In the world with Yiddish, essays) (New York, 1972), pp. 110-15; Avrom-Ber Tabatshnik, Der mentsh in kholem, di dikhtung fun meyer shtiker (Man in dream, the poetry of Meyer Shtiker) (New York, 1962); Tabatshnik, Dikhter un dikhtung (Poets and poetry) (New York, 1965), pp. 350-85, 497-505; Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vol. 2 (New York and Tel Aviv: Matones, 1965), pp. 145-50; Arn Leyeles, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 20, 1966); Shmuel Margoshes, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (April 16, 1966); Meylekh Ravitsh, in Tsukunft (July-August 1966); Lazar Fogelman, in Forverts (New York) (November 6, 1966); Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, in Di prese (Buenos Aires) (January 12, 1972); Froym Oyerbakh, Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1975), pp. 305-11; Shmuel-Leyb Shnayderman, in Di yidishe nayes (Melbourne) (June 16, 1978); Elye (Elias) Shulman, Portretn un etyudn (Portraits and studies) (New York: Tsiko, 1979), pp. 369-73.
Elye (Elias) Shulman