Wednesday 4 April 2018


HYMAN STRUNSKI (1871-April 10, 1942)
            He was born in Babinits (Babinichy), Vitebsk district, Byelorussia, to a father who was a scholar and a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment.  At the age of eighty-six, his mother wrote her memoirs of their town.  At age fifteen he arrived in the United States with his family, where he went to work stitching shirts.  At seventeen there arose in him a desire to write.  He married in 1894 and the following year moved with his family to San Francisco, where in the great fire and earthquake of 1906 he lost all of his writings.  He returned to New York that year, became a reporter for the Anglophone socialist newspaper The New York Call, and he wrote stories in English for “Street and Smith Publications.”  He also published in the journals Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair, and he composed as well English-language pieces for the theater.  During and after WWI, he had a coffee house on Second Avenue in New York City, where Yiddish poets of the “Yunge” (young ones) and “Inzikh” (introspectivist) bent congregated.  From 1913 he engaged in business with hotels and real estate.  His first poem in Yiddish—published in Folks-advokat (People’s advocate) on June 26, 1891—was written in the form of a question to Morris Rozenfeld.  Over the years 1891-1893, he published in Arbayter-tsaytung (Workers’ newspaper) (New York) poetry and a prose item entitled “Di oyto-byografye fun a rak” (The autobiography of a crayfish) (April 27, 1895), as well as reviews in English on M. Rozenfeld and on Yehoash’s book Gezamlte lider (Collected poems)—in Jewish Comment in Baltimore (August 23, 1907 and October 11, 1907).  “His social poems describing working people,” wrote N. B. Minkov, “were of a light genre, and some of them resembled the form and rhythm of the poetry of Eliakum Zunser.”  He died in New York.

Sources: N. B. Minkov, in Unzer tsayt (New York) (July-August 1954); Minkov, Pyonern fun der yidisher poezye in amerike, dos sotsyale lid (Pioneers of Yiddish poetry in America, the social poem), vol. 1 (New York, 1956), pp. 317-33.
Yankev Kahan

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