Monday 4 May 2015


YANKEV GOTLIB (October 1911-May 27, 1945)
            He was born in Kovno into a Hassidic home.  His father descended from the Sanzer rebbe, the Divrei Chaim, and he himself was the head of a yeshiva, the younger brother of N. Y. Gotlib.  He studied in religious primary schools and yeshivas.  Secular knowledge he acquired on his own.  He started writing while young, and his first poem was published in Di yidishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno in 1925.  From that point on, he published poems, short stories, and articles on literature, in Yiddish and in Hebrew, in Di yidishe shtime, Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Mir aleyn (We alone), Galim (Waves), Dapim (Pages), Di tsayt (The time), Dos vort (The word), Shlyakhn (Rough roads), Toyern (Gates), Bleter (Leaves), Shtraln (Beams), and Ringn (Links)—in Kovno; Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves) in Warsaw; Yidishe bilder (Jewish images) and Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; and Tsukunft (Future) and Zamlbikher (Anthologies) in New York.  Among his books: Gold un blut (Gold and blood) (Kovno, 1931), poems, 48 pp.; Koyles fun der vayt (Voices from afar) (Kovno, 1933), poems, 64 pp.; A verbe baym taykh (A willow by the river) (Kovno, 1939), poems, 96 pp.; Sonetn (Sonnets) (Kovno, 1938), 96 pp.; H. leyvik, zayn lid un drame (H. Leivick, his poetry and drama) (Kovno, 1939), 95 pp.; Geklibene lider (Collected poems) (Montreal, 1959), 193 pp.  He edited, either alone or with others, Kovno literary anthologies and journal: Shlyakhn, Toyern, Bleter, and Ringn.  He was a gentle, perceptive, linguistically rich poet.  His principal motifs were: depictions of nature, the Lithuanian landscape, the smaller town of Jewish Lithuania, as well as national and social motifs; profound premonitions of the coming, “third destruction” fill a great proportion of his poetry, even as early as 1932.
His literary critical essays excel in engrossing analysis and a great knowledge of the issues entailed by poetic form.  In the main he wrote about poetry.  He took a prominent, even a leading, place among the young Yiddish writers in Lithuania.  He was also a popular lecturer on literary and community themes, and he took an active part in general Jewish cultural life in the country.  He spent the years of WWII in the Central Asian part of Soviet Russia, living there in want and in fear, and the entire time he wrote nothing.  He died of typhus in Merv [Turkmenistan] in Soviet Central Asia.

Sources: A. D. Sh., in Toyern (Kovno, 1937); M. Kitay, in Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (July 15, 1938); Shtraln 22 (Kovno, 1941); N. Y. Gotlib, in Keneder odler (October 8, 1945); Dr. M. Sudarski, in Der litvisher yid (New York) 7-8 (1946); Sh. Slutski, in “A. reyzen biblyografye” (A. Reyzen bibliography) (New York, 1956), no. 4463; Kh. L. Fuks, in Fun noentn over (New York) 3 (1957), p. 210.

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 124.]

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