Presented on Zoom, February 16, 2021
Emma Lazarus was born to a wealthy Sephardic family in New York in 1849, and though she died at age 38, was one of the first Jewish American poets to gain fame. Anna Margolin was born in Brisk in 1887 and became known as a Yiddish poet in New York, where she died in 1952. Irena Klepfisz was born in 1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto, and became a bilingual English and Yiddish poet, writing in New York to this very day.
In this talk, Zohar Weiman-Kelman considers lines connecting these three different poets, namely, the way they each create their own transgressive poetic histories crossing lines of gender, religion, and temporality. Bringing the poets into conversation across time and language, Weiman-Kelman asks what these connections can reveal about the history of Jewish literature.
About the Speaker:
Zohar Weiman-Kelman is a senior lecturer in the department of foreign literatures and linguistics and holds the Blechner Career Development Chair in East European Jewish Culture at Ben-Gurion University. They received a PhD in comparative literature from the University of California Berkeley and were a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Zohar was a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and an associate scholar at the Humanities Forum on Sex, both at the University of Pennsylvania. Their first book, Queer Expectations: A Genealogy of Jewish Women’s Poetry, was published by SUNY Press in 2018.
Readings Discussed in this Lecture:
- Irena Klepfisz, "Etlekhe verter oyf mame-loshn/A Few Words in the Mother Tongue" (available to read in Klepfisz’s 2020 In geveb essay “The 2087th Question or When Silence Is the Only Answer”)
- Emma Lazarus, "Assurance" (available to read via the Jewish Women's Archive)
- Emma Lazarus, "Venus of the Louvre" (available to read via the Poetry Foundation)
- Anna Margolin, "Ikh bin geven amol a yingling" (original Yiddish here; English translation available here)