Friday 17 February 2017


SHIYE LATSMAN (March 2, 1906-March 16, 1984)

            He was a poet, born in the town of Pokroy (Pakruojus), near Ponevezh (Panevėžys), Lithuania. In 1926 he graduated from a Hebrew teachers’ seminary in Kovno and for a time studied at Kovno University. He was later a teacher in the Tarbut school in Kovno. He was a member of the young Yiddish poets group which had a leftist orientation. In 1940 when the Bolsheviks occupied Lithuania and Lithuania became a Soviet republic, he joined the Communists and was active in Yiddish cultural work, Yiddish radio broadcasts, and the like. With the Nazi invasion in June 1941, he fled from Lithuania to Kazakhstan. For a time he fought with the Red Army against the Germans on the front; after the war he lived in Alma Ata, capital of Kazakhstan, and in 1947 he returned from Alma Ata to Lithuania, and he published in Eynikeyt (Unity) in Moscow. He was purged in 1948 and only returned from exile in 1956. He launched his publishing career with poetry in the newspaper Di idishe shtime (The Jewish voice) in Kovno in 1930, and later wrote poems, essays, and translations from modern Hebrew and Asian poets in: Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Unzer tsayt (Our time), and Dos vort (The word), and in such Yiddish literary collections in Lithuania as: Mir aleyn, zamlbyukh far literatur, kunst un kritik (We alone, anthology for literature, art, and criticism) (Kovno: n.p., 1930); Shlyakhn, zamlbukh far literatur (Rough roads, anthology for literature) (Kovno: n.p., 1932); Brikn, oysgabe far literatur un kunst (Bridges, publication for literature and art) (Kovno: Society for Theater and Art, 1937); Bleter, zamlbukh far literatur (Pages, anthology for literature) (Kovno: n.p., 1938); and Naye bleter (New pages) (Kovno, 1939). After 1940 he contributed as well to: Emes (Truth) and Shtraln (Beams [of light]) in Kovno, Vilner emes (Vilna truth), as well as other literary collections in Soviet Russia. From 1961 he also wrote for Sovetish heymland (Soviet homeland), and he published a poetic cycle in Horizontn (Horizons) in 1965 (Moscow: Sovetski pisatel). The principal themes of his poetry were Lithuania, Vilna, and landscape depictions. In 1971 he made aliya to Israel, settling in Rishon Letzion. He was ill for the last ten years of his life, and he died in Rishon Letzion.

His books include: Lider un poemen (Poetry) (Kaunas, 1939); Tilim-gezangen (Songs and songs) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1979), 189 pp.

Sources: Y. Mark, in Zamlbukh lekoved dem tsveyhundert un fuftsukstn yoyvl fun der yidisher prese, 1686-1936 (Anthology in honor of the 250th jubilee of the Yiddish press, 1686-1936), ed. Dr. Y. Shatski (New York, 1937), p. 298; N. Y. Gotlib, in Der litvisher yid (New York) (April 1944); Y. Gar, Viderklangen, oytobyografishe fartseykhenungen (Echoes, autobiographical jottings) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1961), p. 213.

Khayim Leyb Fuks

[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 321; 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), p. 195.]

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