ARIE SHAMRI (April 22, 1907-March 13, 1978)
He was a poet, born with the surname Riba in Kalushin (Kałuszyn), Poland. He studied in yeshiva, later with his Hassidic father and grandfather. He experienced the Hassidic-kabbalistic cravings to reform the world and for social ideals, and he found his way in the pioneer movement. In 1929 he moved to the land of Israel and from 1930 was a member of the kibbutz Ein Shemer—from whence comes his adopted surname. He debuted in print in 1936 with a poem entitled “Leyzer tsipres” (Leyzer Cypress) in Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves). He began writing in Hebrew but stayed with Yiddish as well. He published poems—from time to time, essays as well—in Israeli serials: Shtamen (Tribes), Bleter far literatur (Pages for literature), the collection Erets-yisroel shriftn (Writings from the land of Israel) (1937), Undzers (Ours), Vortslen (Roots), Di goldene keyt (The golden chain), Folksblat (People’s newspaper), Almanakh (Almanac) (Tel Aviv, 1967); Amerikaner (American), Opatoshu-leyvik-zamlbikher (Opatoshu-Leivick anthologies), Tsukunft (Future), Yidishe kultur (Jewish culture), and Getseltn (Tents)—New York; and Literarishe zamlungen (Literary collections) in Chicago; among others. His work appeared as well in: Yitskhok Paner and Leyzer Frenkel, Naye yidishe dikhtung (Modern Yiddish poetry) (Iași: Jewish cultural circle in Romania, 1947); Lider fun khurbn, t”sh-tsh”h (Poetry from the Holocaust, 1939-1945) (Tel Aviv, 1962); Moshe Basok, Mivḥar shirat yidish (Selection of Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Yoysef Papyernikov, Yerusholaim in yidishn lid, antologye (Jerusalem in Yiddish poetry, anthology) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1973); Y. Kh. Biletski, Mame in yidishn lid (Mother in Yiddish poetry) (Tel Aviv, 1980); Charles Dobzynski, Anthologie de la poésie Yiddish, le miroir d’un people (Anthology of Yiddish poetry, the mirror of a people) (Paris: Gallimard, 1971); and Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (New York, 1969).
He edited anthologies entitled: Lo emut ki eḥye (I shall not die for I will live) (Merḥavya, 1957); Vortslen, antologye fun yidish-shafn in yisroel, poezye un proze (Roots, anthology of Yiddish creative writing in Israel, poetry and prose) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1966); Seyfer kalushin ([Remembrance] volume for Kałuszyn) (Tel Aviv, 1961); and Pinkas novi-dvor (Records of Nowy Dwor) (Tel Aviv, 1965). He was a recipient of the Fikhman Prize, the Manger Prize, and other awards. His books (of poetry) include: L”v shirim al leyzer tsiprus (Thirty-six poems for Leyzer Cypress), trans. from Yiddish by A. Shlonski (Merḥavya, 1939), 84 pp.; In toyer fun teg (At the gates of days) (Merḥavya, 1947), 167 pp.; In vokhikn likht (In watchful light) (Merḥavya, 1953), 125 pp.; A shtern in feld, lider un poemes (A star in the field, poetry) (Tel Aviv: Goldene keyt, 1957), 156 pp.; Di funken fun tikn, poeme (The sparks of improvement, a poem) (Tel Aviv: Perets Publ., 1960), 173 pp.; Trit in gan odem (Step in the garden) (Merḥavya, 1965), 218 pp.; Dos yingl fun dizhon (The lad from Dijon) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1968), 155 pp.; Gezangen in shayer (Songs in the barn) (Merḥavya, 1970), 700 pp.; Ringen in shtam (Links in the tribe) (Merḥavya, 1975), 233 pp.; Af grinem parmet (On green parchment) (Merḥavya, 1977), 172 pp.; Gan adam (Garden) (Merḥavya, 1980), 149 pp., rendered into Hebrew by various translators; Eynzamlung, eseyen, ophandlungen, redes (Collection, essays, treatments, speeches) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1982), 248 pp. He died in Ein Shemer, Israel.
As the jury for the Manger Prize noted: “The poles of his poetic creation are destruction and redemption—the tragic downfall of European Jewry and the heroic rise of the state of Israel…on the one hand adorned with symbols of kabbala and Hassidic allusion and on the other with colors in relief and rhythms of pioneers’ labor.”
Shamri’s poetry, as Yitskhok Yanasovitsh noted, “captivated us with its new gamut of feelings and with the new scale of visions…expressed in innovative, deeply original colors and images.”
Shamri’s “poetry of personal sorrow,” commented Shloyme Bikl, “the poems of rebelliousness against God and man, the poems of love for the Israeli soil and also for the Yiddish poem…[speak] to us in imagery clear and simple and with words robust and quiet, even when a scream is torn from them here and there.”
“Shamri is expressive,” noted Froym Oyerbakh, “his lines very often revelatory, the rhythm song-like, and mainly he possesses a poetic disposition to which he is able artistically acquaint us.”
Sources: Meylekh Ravitsh, Mayn leksikon (My lexicon), vol. 3 (Montreal, 1958); Benyomen Grobard, in Literarishe zamlungen, vol. 5 (Chicago, 1948); A. Mukdoni, in Tsukunft (New York) (July-August 1953); Yankev Glatshteyn, In tokh genumen (In essence) (New York, 1956); Glatshteyn, Mit mayne fartog-bikher (With my daybreak books) (Tel Aviv, 1963); Avrom Sutskever, in Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) 28 (1957); Shloyme Bikl, Shrayber fun mayn dor (Writers of my generation), vols. 1-3 (New York: Matones, 1958-1970); Arn Glants, Velt un vort (World and word) (New York, 1958), pp. 297-300; Mordekhai Ḥalamish, in Al hamishmar (Tel Aviv (May 23, 1958); Yisroel-Khayim Biletski, Masot bishvile sifrut yidish (Essays on Yiddish literature), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv: Gazit, 1963), pp. 186-94; Moyshe Gros-Tsimerman, Intimer videranand, eseyen (Intimate contrast, essays) (Tel Aviv: Peretz Publ., 1964), pp. 274-80; Nosn Fodemberg, Shafer un boyer, eseyen vegn shrayber un bikher (Creators and builders, essays on writers and books) (New York: IKUF, 1964), pp. 156-67; Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Yitskhok Yanasovitsh, Penemer un nemen (Faces and names), vol. 1 (Buenos Aires, 1971), pp. 357-67; Dov Sadan, Heymishe ksovim, shrayber, bikher, problemen (Familiar writings, writers, books, issues), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Hamenorah, 1972), pp. 140-44; Froym Oyerbakh, Af der vogshol, esey (In the balance, essay), vol. 1 (Tel Aviv, 1975), pp. 312-17; Y. Shpigl, in Di goldene keyt 73 (1975); Yankev-Tsvi Shargel, Fun onheyb on, tsvishn shrayber un verk (From the beginning, among writers and works) (Tel Aviv: Yisroel-bukh, 1977), pp. 51-61.
[Additional information from: Berl Kagan, comp., Leksikon fun yidish-shraybers (Biographical dictionary of Yiddish writers) (New York, 1986), col. 530.]