Wednesday 30 January 2019


YOSL KOHN (COHEN) (December 21, 1897-March 1977)
            He was poet, born in Krinik (Kryni), Grodno Province, Poland.  He attended religious elementary school and public school.  In 1909 he emigrated to the United States and entered middle school.  He linked up with the leftist labor and trade union movement.  He lived in Soviet Russia (1931-1933).  He belonged to the literary group “Proletpen” (Proletarian pen).  He debuted in print in 1920 in Industryele arbayter shtime (Voice of industrial labor) of the IWW (International Workers of the World).  He contributed poetry and articles to: Fraye arbeter shtime (Free voice of labor), Signal (Signal), Yunyon skver (Union Square), Spartak (Spartacus), Frayhayt (Freedom), Hamer (Hammer), Di feder (The pen), Emes (Truth) in Moscow, Prolit (Proletarian literature) in Kharkov, and Shtern (Star) in Minsk, among others.  His work appeared in: D. Kurland and S. Rokhkind’s anthology, Di haynttsaytike proletarishe yidishe dikhtung in amerike (Contemporary proletarian Yiddish poetry in America) (Minsk, 1932); In shotn fun tlies, almanakh fun der yidisher proletarisher literatur in di kapitalistishe lender (In the shadow of the gallows, an almanac of Yiddish proletarian literature in the capitalist countries) (Kharkov-Kiev, 1932); Nakhmen Mayzil’s Amerike in yidishn vort (America in the Yiddish word) (New York, 1955); and Moyshe Shtarkman’s Hamshekh-antologye (Hamshekh anthology) (New York, 1945).  Over the years 1944-1952, he served as editor of labor news for Morgn-zhurnal (Morning journal).  In 1962 he published Unzer dor (Our generation) in New York (only one issues appeared).  His works include: Shtot (City) (New York, 1926), 203 pp.; Fun yener zayt yam, lider (From the other side of the sea, poetry) (Moscow: Emes, 1932), 62 pp.; Krume vegn (Twisted roads) (New York, 1936), 126 pp.; Der morgn iz eybik (The morrow is eternal) (New York, 1948), 158 pp.; Vi nekhtn geshen (As it happened yesterday), memoirs (New York, 1953), 295 pp.; A funk in tunkl (A spark in the dark) (New York, 1967), 191 pp.  Kohn “emerged on the horizon of our poetry,” wrote L. Faynberg, “as an innovative poet with his own look, which has creases here and there.”  He died in New York.

Sources: A. Leyeles, in Inzikh (New York) 25 (1936), pp. 23-24; B. Rivkin, in Tsukunft (New York) 10 (1936); Yankev Glatshteyn, in Idisher kemfer (New York) (July 2, 1948); Avrom Reyzen, in Di feder (New York) (1949); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft 2 (1954); Yeshurin archive, YIVO (New York).
Yekhezkl Lifshits

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