Tuesday 25 October 2016


ZYAME TELESIN (ZIAME TELESSIN) (July 15, 1909[1]-1996)

            He was a poet, born in Kalinkovitsh (Kalinkavičy), Polesia, Byelorussia, into the home of a tinsmith. In his youth he took up his father’s trade. In 1929 he moved to Moscow where he studied in the Yiddish division of the Literature Department of No. 2 Moscow State University. He debuted in print in the early 1930s in the Minsk newspaper Oktyabr (October) and journal Shtern (Star), as well as in other journals. After graduating from university in 1935, he and his wife, the poet Rokhl Boymvol, were sent to Minsk to engage in literary work, and there he worked as an editor at the state publishing house and (over the years 1938-1941) for a Byelorussian-language children’s magazine. In 1938 he and his wife translated and published a volume of stories by Anton Chekhov, Oysderveytle dertseylungen (Selected stories) (Minsk: Byelorussian State Publishers), 185 pp. He also translated Aleksey Tolstoy’s Broyt (Bread [original Khleb]) (Minsk: Byelorussian Council of People’s Commissars, 1940), 327 pp. At the start of WWII, he volunteered for the front, serving as a war correspondent for Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow. After suffering a severe shell-shock, he was demobilized from the army at the rank of captain.

            He published poems and essays in Eynikeyt over the postwar years 1945-1948, and in the 1950s and 1960s in Warsaw’s Yidishe shriftn (Yiddish writings) and Folks-shtime (Voice of the people). He contributed to the first issue of Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) in Moscow (July-August 1961). Critics and readers remarked that Telesin’s poems were full of lyrical dreaminess, with authentic feelings and experiences, with intelligent ingenuity, and with a fine, perhaps ironic smile. In 1971 he made aliya to Israel and settled in Jerusalem, where he continued his intensive literary activities and published more books. In 1979 he was award a prize from the writers’ association of Israel, and in 1990 he received the Manger Prize.

Among his books: Af der likhtiker velt (In the illustrious world) (Moscow: Emes, 1948), 125 pp.; Noent tsum hartsn (Close to the heart) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965), translated from Russian into Yiddish; Af mayne akhrayes, lider, balades, poemes (My responsibility, poems and ballads) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1968), 250 pp.; Geveyn fun zikorn (Cry from memory) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1972), 253 pp.; Komets-alef-o (“Komets-alef” [is pronounced] “o”) (Jerusalem: Kultur-gezelshaft, 1980), 207 pp.; Der veg funem foygl (The bird’s path) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1988), 114 pp.; Dos nisele, vos fayft (The nut that whistles) (Jerusalem: Farlag haarets, 1992), 57 pp. In 1957 his Russian-language poetry collection appeared in print as: Zhivye korni (Living roots) (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’), 189 pp. His work also appeared in Bafrayte brider, literarishe zamlung (Liberated brethren, literary anthology) (Minsk: n.p., 1939).

Sources: M. Notovitsh, in Eynikeyt (Moscow) (February 24, 1945); A. Kushnirov, in Naye prese (Paris) (July 27, 1945); Elye Shulman, in Der veker (New York) (November 1, 1955); G. Kenig, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (October 21, 1956); N. Mayzil, Dos yidishe shafn un der yidisher arbeter in sovetn-farband (Jewish creation and the Jewish worker in the Soviet Union) (New York, 1959), see index; Y. Serebryani, in Folks-shtime (Warsaw) (August 20, 1960); A. Lyubomirski, in Morgn-frayhayt (September 14, 1960); Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (March 28, 1961), concerning his eulogy at the death of Patrice Lumumba; Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (September 29, 1961).

Benyomen Elis

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 283; Chaim Beider, Leksikon fun yidishe shrayber in ratn-farband (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union), ed. Boris Sandler and Gennady Estraikh (New York: Congress for Jewish Culture, Inc., 2011), p. 165.]

[1] According to Telesin himself. The date given in Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965) of 1912 is incorrect.


  1. he wrote the most beautiful poem ever, sung by Chawa Alberstein Ikh Shtey unter a bokserboym

  2. ZYAME TELESIN contributed among others his works to Mit festn trot (With a firm step/pace) : literarisher zamlbukh /red. Kh. Maltinski.- Minsk : Melukhe-farlag fun Vaysrusland, 1947.- 175 pp.
    מיט פעסטנ טראט :
    ליטערארישער זאמלבוכ
    רעד. כ. מאלטינסקי