Friday 30 January 2015


MARTIN (MORTKHE-EZRIEL) BIRNBOYM (BIRNBAUM) (October 29, 1904-August 1, 1986)
     He was born in Zukov, eastern Galicia.  His father, Hersh, was a distiller.  He studied in a Hebrew and in a Polish school.  During WWI he lived in the Bukovina Carpathians, later in a Viennese home for child refugees, and later still in Brin.  From 1917 he was back living in the city of his birth and making preparations to go to Palestine.  In 1920 he settled in Vienna, and in 1923 he emigrated to the United States where he became a laborer in fur-ware.  He studied in a New York evening high school.  Initially he wrote poems in German for New York’s Deutsche Volkszeitung (German people’s newspaper).  In 1929 he began writing Yiddish poems and published them in Frayhayt (Freedom).  He also wrote trade songs.  He contributed pieces to: Hamer (Hammer), Naylebn (New life), Funken (Sparks), and Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and he was on the editorial board of Signaln (Signals).  He was a teacher in the International Workers’ Order (IWO).  He was one of the most talented poets in the leftist camp.  Among his books: Vayzers (Hands [on a clock]) (New York, 1934), 158 pp.; and Der veg aroyf (The way up) (New York, 1939), 208 pp.; Lider fun haynt un nekhtn (Poems of today and yesterday) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1978), 316 pp.; Lider vegn lid un andere lider (Poems about poetry and other poems) (New York: IKUF, 1981), 160 pp.; His work was included in: In shotn fun tliyes (In the shadow of the gallows) (Kiev-Kharkov, 1932).


Sources: Moyshe Shtarkman, in Hemshekh-antologye (Continuation anthology) (New York, 1945), pp. 333-39; Y. A. Rontsh, in Hemshekh-antologye, pp. 152-53; Joseph Leftwich, comp., The Golden Peacock: An Anthology of Yiddish Poetry Translated into English Verse (Cambridge, Mass., 1939), pp. 152-53; Yevreyskaya poeziya (Jewish poetry) (New York, 1947), pp. 214-17.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), cols. 85-86.]

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