Binyomin Gutianski (1903–1956) was a Soviet Yiddish writer, editor, and translator primarily known as a writer for children. Most of Gutianski’s original work consists of short poems and stories in rhyme; he also translated classic works such as Don Quixote into Yiddish. During World War II he served as a Soviet propagandist and fought in the Red Army. After the war, Gutianski was a victim of the postwar repressions of Jewish intellectual life and culture.
An excerpt from
Look! A grandma made of snow
Two black eyes she has, just so
Her mouth’s a hole
Filled up with coal
She has a crooked, little nose
But where her ears are, heaven knows!
It gives the grandma quite a fright
And truth be told, the grandma’s right
It brings her—poor thing!—close to tears
Where to find a pair of ears? ▪
Miriam Udel, a 2013 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow, is an assistant professor of Yiddish language, literature, and culture at Emory University, where she is currently working on an anthology and scholarly study of Yiddish children’s literature. She received a PhD in comparative literature from Harvard University in 2008. In addition to her scholarly publications, Miriam’s essays and reporting have appeared in The Atlantic, the New Republic, the Forward, The American Prospect, and Harvard Magazine.