L. MILER (November 20, 1889-May 1967)
The adopted name of Leyzen Meler, he was born in Lanovits (Lanovichi), Volhynia. His father, Yitskhok Meler, was the rabbi of Bolgrad (Bolhrad), Bessarabia, and the author of the commentary on Ibn Ezra and other religious works and of essays and poems in Suvalski’s Kneset yisrael (Congregation of Israel) and other publications. Until age sixteen Miler studied in religious primary schools and under the supervision of his father. He studied Russian language and other secular subjects with private tutors. In 1906 he made his way to the United States, where he worked in various trades. He resided in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. For a time he was a businessman dealing in marble and granite, and as a consequence he traveled around America. He debuted in print with a poem entitled “Af di kvorim fun di toyte, tsu di lebedike” (At the graves of the dead, to the living” (written under the influence of the dreadful Triangle Shirtwaist Fire) in Fraye arbeter-shtime (Free voice of labor) in New York (1911). In the first period of his writing, Miler wrote about labor, hardship, and struggle and published his poetry in: Der idisher kemfer (The Jewish fighter), Di naye velt (The new world), Glaykhheyt (Equality), Di vokh (The week), Der kibitzer (The kibitzer), Der groyser kundes (The great prankster), Poezye (Poetry), and Dos vort (The word), among others—in New York; Onhoyb (Beginning) and Baym fayer (At the fire), edited by Z. Vaynper, in Philadelphia; as well as other periodicals in America. Later, under the impact of the group of poets known as “Di yunge” (The young ones), for a time he eschewed social motifs and wrote individualistic poems, and when he published his first poetry collection, he did not even include his first poems in it. Miler also composed prose and was a contributor to the anthology Shriften (Writings) and co-edited its first two volumes in 1912 and 1913. In volume five of Shriften, he published a novel entitled Abo. In October 1925 he founded in Chicago the journal Kultur (Culture)—“illustrated weekly for literature, art, and general matters”; twenty-one issues appeared in print, for which he served as editor. In 1928 he began contributing to Morgn-frayhayt (Morning freedom), Der hamer (The hammer), and other Communist and pro-Communist publications. He also wrote stories and plays for children, which were staged by the children in International Labor Order schools (where he taught for awhile). He also published in Soviet Yiddish publications. He was: co-editor and manager of the monthly Signal (Signal), organ of Proletpen (1935-1936); co-editor of the journal Yidish amerike (Jewish America), “monthly journal for literature and criticism,” published by the leftist “Yiddish poets club of America” (1949); from 1954 to the end of 1958, and co-editor of the quarterly Zamlungen (Collections), put out by the Yiddish writers’ association at IKUF (Jewish Cultural Association) in New York. His published books include: Af gots velt, lider (In God’s world, poems), ornately lettered and illustrated in its entirety by the artist Yude Tofel (New York, 1919), 122 pp.; Do iz mayn heym (Here is my home), “selected poetry” (New York, 1942), 172 pp.; Dos lebn vos lebt eybik, milkhome-balade (Life that goes on forever, war ballad) (New York, 1942), 30 pp.; Shturems un regnboygns, lider (Thunderstorms and rainbows, poems) (New York, 1948), 160 pp.; Eybik lebn (Eternal life), “new and selected poetry” (New York, 1959), 188 pp.; and Mir ale, naye un opgeklibene lider, poemes, iberzetsungen fun fremde shprkhn (All of us, new and selected poetry, poems, translations from foreign languages) (Paris: Oyfsnay, 1965), 207 pp. He translated: Walt Whitman, Lider fun bukh bletlekh groz (Poems from [Whitman’s] book, Leaves of Grass) (New York, 1940), 221 pp.; poems by Alfred Kromberg, which appeared in Eybik lebn; and from Chinese poetry, which appeared in Zamlungen 17. He died in New York.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; B. Ts. Ayzenshtadt, Dor rabanav vesofrav (A generation of rabbis and authors), vol. 2 (New York, 1900); Morris Basin, Finf hundert yor yidishe poezye (500 years of Yiddish poetry), vol. 2 (New York, 1917); Antologye midvest un mayrev (Anthology of the Midwest and the West) (Chicago, 1933), p. 197; Z. Vaynper, in Yidishe shriftsheler (New York) 1 (1933), pp. 121-26; Khayim Leyb Fuks, in Lodzher folksblat (June 5, 1923); A. Pomerants, in Proletpen (Kiev) (1935); M, Kats, in Morgn-frayhayt (New York) (November 5, 1939); B. Grin, in Yidish amerike (New York) (January 1949); Grin, in Zamlungen (New York) 19 (1959); B. Kleyn, in Folksshtime (Warsaw) (May 22, 1954); A. Rontsh, in Yidishe kultur (New York) (November 1959); N. Mayzil, Tsurikblikn un perspektivn (Retrospectives and perspectives) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1962), see index; The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (New York), vol. 7.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 374.]