MONYE SHAPIRO (October 13, 1898-May 21, 1931)
He was an author of poetry and stories, as well as a translator, born in the town of Voŭpa, Grodno Province, the husband of Dine Libkis. Until age fifteen he studied in yeshivas, later receiving ordination into the rabbinate. He then ran off to Vilna and turned his attention to acquiring a general education. Over the years 1918-1920, he studied in the Grodno teachers’ course which had moved to Kharkov. He later settled in Kiev and worked there as a teacher. He debuted in print in 1918 with a social poem in Moscow’s Der emes (The truth). He later contributed poems on the Revolution and civil war to Soviet Yiddish publications: Kharkover vokhnblat (Kharkov weekly newspaper), Tog (Day) in 1919, Shtern (Star) in Kharkov, Komfon (Communist banner), Veker (Alarm), Shtrom (Current), Royte velt (Red world), Prolit (Proletarian literature), Shtern in Minsk, Yungvald (Young forest), Freyd (Joy), Yunge gvardye (Young guard), and New York’s Frayhayt (Freedom) and Hamer (Hammer), among others. His work also appeared together with Dovid Hofshteyn, Shifre Kholodenko, Perets Markish, Itsik Fefer, Leyb Kvitko, and other young poets in the literary collection: Yugnt (Youth) (Kharkov: Central Committee of Komyug, 1922), edited by Arn Kushnirov. That same year, his work appeared in the anthology Barg-aroyf (Uphill) (Kiev: Vidervuks). His work was also published in the anthologies: Ukraine (Ukraine) in Kharkov (1926); Shlakhtn (Battles); and Leyb Kvitko’s Deklamator (Declaimer) (Kharkov: Central Publishers, 1929). Over the course of his short life, he accomplished a great deal in the field of literature, and he was one of the most enthusiastic builders and creators of Soviet Yiddish literature.
In book form: Fartog (Dawn), poetry (Kiev: Vidervuks, 1922), 32 pp.; Veygeburt (Birth pangs) (Kiev: Vidervuks, 1922); In ershtn yugnthoyz, tsen kapitlen fun unzere teg (In the first youth hostel, ten chapters from our days) (Kharkov: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1925), 83 pp., second printing (1929); Lider, 1923-1929 (Poetry, 1923-1929) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 80 pp.; Yung lebn, dertseylungen (Young life, stories) (Moscow-Minsk: Central People’s Publishers, USSR, 1930), 200 pp.; Dos sovetishe rekht (Soviet right) (Moscow: Central Publishers, 1931), 62 pp.; Eyner fun milyonen, lider (One in a million, poetry) (Kharkov: Literatur un kunst, 1932), 69 pp.; Dertseylungen (Stories) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 175 pp.
His translations include: Matvii Yavorskyi, Kurtse geshikhte fun ukraine (Short history of Ukraine [original: Korotka istoriia Ukraïny]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 146 pp., second edition (1927); N. Andreyev, Oyfkum fun kapitalizm (The rise of capitalism [original: Vozniknovenie kapitalizma]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 63 pp.; V. Sorokin, Groyser oktyabr, a shmues mit pyonern (Great October, a chat with pioneers [original: Velikii oktyabr]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 30 pp.; Anna Ulianova-Elizarova, Ilitshes kinder-yorn (Ilich’s [Lenin’s] childhood years [original: Detskie gody Ilʹicha]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 37 pp., second edition (1930); Evgenii Elachich, Heymishe balekhaim, zeyer opshtam (Domestic animals, their origins [original: Domashnie Zhivotnye]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1926), 61 pp.; Vladimir Miroshevskii (with A. Veldenitski), Khrestomatye tsu der geshikhte fun tsvishnfelḳerlekher proletarisher yugnt-baṿegung (Reader in the history of the international proletarian youth movement) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1925), 238 pp.; Gleb Aleksandrenko, Ḳonstitutsye fun u.s.r.r. un f.s.r.r. (Constitution of the Ukrainian S.S.R. and the USSR) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 95 pp.; Lucy Fitch Perkins, Kinder fun okean (Children of the ocean) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 93 pp.; Ouida [pseud. Maria Louise Ramé], In step (In the steppe) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1928), 37 pp.; Kudeli, Mayn ershter may (My May first) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1929), 27 pp.; Veniamin Kavarin, Di balagerung fun vinter-palats (The siege of the Winter Palace) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 47 pp.; S. Grigoriev, Lokomotiv (Locomotive) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 61 pp.; Grigoriev, Der vayser soyne (The white enemy) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 55 pp.; Alexey Novikov-Priboi, In bukhte ‘otrada’ (In Otrada Bay) (Kiev, 1930); R. Rolinato (Ivan Kulyk), Vasil rolenko in amerike (Vasil Rolenko in America) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 116 pp.; V. Reznichenko, Dnyeperboy (Construction on the Dnieper [River]) (Kiev: Kultur-lige, 1930), 40 pp.; Alfred Götze, Af hamburger barikades (At the Hamburg barricades) (Kharkov: Central Publ., 1931), 46 pp.; V. Lvovitsh, Ven s’helft nit keyn harmatn (When artillery is powerless) (Kharkov-Kiev: Central Publ., 1931), 47 pp.; Vladimir P. Drunin, A. i. zhelyabov (A. I. Zheliabov) (Kharkov-Kiev: Ukrainian State Publishers for National Minorities, 1932), 60 pp.
He died in Kiev. Dovid Hofshteyn wrote in his obituary for Shapiro, “Baym frishn keyver” (At a fresh grave): “Hollow emptiness, simplicity, profound love, which is absorbed into the everyday—this was his essence, and thus the soft, intimate M. Shapiro became one of the first fighters for proletarian literature.”
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Chone Shmeruk, comp., Pirsumim yehudiim babrit-hamoatsot, 1917-1961 (Jewish publications in the Soviet Union, 1917-1961) (Jerusalem, 1962), see index (he erroneously confuses Monye with Moyshe Shapiro); Itzik Fefer, in Prolit 4-5 (1931); Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) (1931), p. 561; Dovid Hofshteyn, in Komunistishe fon (Kiev) (May 6, 1931).
[Additional information from: 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. 373-74.]