Monday 21 November 2016



            He was a poet, born in the city of Kovel, Volhynia, Ukraine. His parents died in a pogrom, and he was raised in a children’s home. In the early 1930s, he moved to Kharkov and worked for the newspaper Der shtern (The star), the era in which he debuted in world of literature with poems. He began publishing in 1933 poetry and translations of Ukrainian poets in: Yunger boy-klang (Young sound of construction), Yunge gvardye (Young guard), Komunist (Communist), and Prolit (Proletarian literature)—in Kharkov; Di fraye yugent (Free youth) in Kiev; Pyoner (Pioneer) and Yungvald (Young forest) in Moscow; Litkomyug, a komyugisher zamlbukh: proze, poezye un kritik (Literary Communist youth: a Communist youth anthology of prose, poetry, and criticism) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1933); Almanakh fun yidishe sovetishe shrayber tsum alfarbandishn shrayber-tsuzamenfor (Almanac, from Soviet Jewish writers to the all-Soviet conference of writers) (Kharkov: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1934); Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow (1947); and other serials. His first collection of poems appeared in 1935: Flamike yugnt (Youth on fire). During the destruction of Yiddish literature in the Soviet Union in the late 1940s, he evaded being purged; he was expelled from the writers’ association for “lack of creativity,” and he was thus rendered invisible, as it would be forbidden from 1948 in the Soviet Union to print a single Yiddish letter. Then, in the very first issue of Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland) (Moscow) 1 (July-August 1961), his poem “Libshaft” (Love) appeared, and amid the lines of the poem about eternal love being torn apart by bitter disappointment, we find: “Blooming, ripening, full of leaves, snowdrifts, which we were not destined to bear.” He wrote a great deal, and from time to time his poems were published in Sovetish heymland. An invalid from birth, it was difficult for him to make a living. The earnings of a newspaper salesman at a little newspaper stand along one of Kiev’s streets was barely enough to sustain his family. It was the poet’s fate, however, not to complain, and he did not write about the inconveniences of life, but only about eternal love, “keys of a bright morning,” and “Aphrodite by the shores of Cyprus.” His volume of poetry in Russian translation, Po moskovskomu vremeni (On Moscow time)—(Moscow: Sovetski pisatel)—was published in 1975, after his death (in Kiev).

His work includes: Flamike yugnt, poems (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1935), 64 pp.; Lirik (Lyric) (Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1940), 121 pp.; a poetry cycle in the anthology Horizontn (Horizons) (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel, 1965).

Sources: D. T-n, in Shtern (Kharkov) 290 (1935); M. Marefes, in Yunge gvardye (Kharkov) 1 (1936); N. Rubinshteyn, Dos yidishe bukh in sovetn-farband in 1932 (The Yiddish book in the Soviet Union in 1932) (Minsk, 1933), p. 132; Al. Pomerants, Inzhinyern fun neshomes (Engineers of souls) (New York, 1944), p. 56; 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), pp. 128, 132; B. Ts. Goldberg, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (October 10, 1961); Sovetish heymland, Materyaln far a leksikon fun der yidisher sovetisher literatur (Materials for a handbook of Soviet Jewish literature) (September 1975). 

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 290; and 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), pp. 169-70.]

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