Weekly Reader 5

From April 17, 2020

With all the dismal news these days, I figure we could use a bit more poetry in our lives. In honor of National Poetry Month, we’ve rummaged through our collection to bring you some fun, unexpected, and maybe even uplifting items about Yiddish poets and poetry. The links below will lead you to a conversation between two contemporary musicians who incorporate Yiddish poems in their compositions, a lecture on Yiddish poems about New York, a modernist montage set in a flower shop, a poetry section on our website with enough multimedia features to keep you busy for a month, a call for memories and memorabilia in honor of the Center’s fortieth anniversary, a Yiddish poem that managed to surprise both its author and its subject, and two upcoming programs that you’ll be able to watch at home.

Now that Passover has passed, we’ll have even more time to explore the riches you’ve helped us rescue over the past four decades and feature the most geshmak in The Weekly Reader. ‘Til then, blaybt mir gezunt un shtark—stay healthy, strong, and safe!

Aaron Lansky

Listen in on a Conversation Between Anthony Russell and Dmitri Gaskin

Yiddish vocalist (and opera singer) Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell and pianist/accordionist Dmitri Gaskin discuss the idioms and styles that inform their musical compositions—including works by some of the greatest Yiddish poets.

Listen to the conversation

Your Front Row Seat: The Big Apple in Yiddish Verse

Our Frances Brandt Online Yiddish Audio Library provides a free front row seat to lectures by some of the greatest Yiddish writers of the second half of the twentieth century, delivered at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. In this recording, the celebrated poet Berish Weinstein describes the different ways in which American Yiddish poets portrayed New York City in their verse. (The introduction is of poor audio quality; the talk itself begins at the 12-minute mark.)

Listen to the archival recording (in Yiddish)

Enter a World of Yiddish Poetry . . .

Poets like Dvoyre Fogel, Avrom Sutzkever, Jacob Glatstein, Celia Dropkin, and countless others turned to Yiddish verse to write about immigration, love, loss, nature, language, and pretty much every other facet of the human experience. The link below will take you to the poetry section of our website, where you’ll find a rich selection of poems in Yiddish and English translation, audio recordings by famous poets, oral histories, podcasts, articles, and more, all evidence of the diversity and enduring appeal of modern Yiddish verse.

Explore the poetry in our collections

Acacias Bloom by Dvoyre Fogel, Translated by Anastasiya Lyubas (2017 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue)

Dvoyre Fogel (1900–1942) was a Yiddish writer and poet, philosopher, art critic, and translator whose work spanned the divide between Yiddish and Polish modernism. Her “prose montage,” Acacias Bloom, was published in Yiddish in 1935, in Polish in 1936, and in English, in the pages of Pakn Treger, in 2017.

Read excerpts from Acacias Bloom

From the Vault: “Di yerushe (The Legacy)”: A Poem in Yiddish and English dedicated to Aaron Lansky, by Sarah Traister Moskovitz. Introduced by Sadie Gold-Shapiro.

In January 1994, Sarah Traister Moskovitz attended a lecture in Malibu, California, by Yiddish Book Center founder Aaron Lansky. His stories held a special resonance for Traister Moskovitz, a family therapist who grew up in a book-filled, Yiddish-speaking home in Springfield, Massachusetts, and worked professionally with child survivors of the Holocaust. “’Di yerushe’ wrote itself,” she recalled twenty years later in an interview with the Center’s Sadie Gold-Shapiro. Not only did it write itself, it wrote itself in Yiddish, a language Traister Moskovitz hadn’t spoken since the passing of her parents fifteen years before.

Read the poem with Sadie's introduction