Celebrating Yiddish Poetry
In Honor of National Poetry Month, We're Featuring Yiddish Poetry From Our Collections
From Avrom Sutzkever to Dvoyre Fogel, Jacob Glatstein, Celia Dropkin, and many more, Yiddish poets used a wide range of different forms to communicate complex experiences and emotions. Writing about immigration, love, loss, the body, Jewish spirituality, nature, language, and a broad array of other topics, Yiddish poets strove to express the contradictions that marked their lives and the joys and struggles of the everyday. This selection of items from our collection—poems in Yiddish and English translation and audio recordings, oral history excerpts, podcasts, articles, and other items about Yiddish poets and poetry—speaks to the diversity, and the beauty and power, of Yiddish poetry.
Selected Poetry in English Translation
I remember, you brought me green sounds from the fields/
when with all my strength I could not reach them,/
zigzagging over well-trodden footpaths, to the bottom layer,/
to bring me a star, so it would become bright as home.
—Avrom Sutzkever, "You Have Not Betrayed Me Since the Day We Met," translated by Maia Evrona
"Am I Seeing, from a Speeding Train...," By Avrom Sutzkever, translated by Maia Evrona
"My Mailman" By Avrom Sutzkever, translated by Maia Evrona
"You Have Not Betrayed Me Since the Day We Met" and "You Olive Tree in the Night," By Avrom Sutzkever, translated by Maia Evrona
"No sun, no rays," an excerpt from Avrom Sutzkever’s collection Lider fun togbukh (Poems from My Diary, 1974–1981), translated by Zackery Sholem Berger
"Circular Landscapes," By Dvoyre Fogel, translated by Anna Torres
“Sunday of Suburban Houses," By Dvoyre Fogel, translated by Anastasiya Lyubas
Acacias Bloom, Excerpts from Dvoyre Fogel’s collection of poetic prose montage, translated by Anastasiya Lyubas
"Be Hallowed" and "Mode," By Jacob Glatstein, translated by Andrew Sunshine
"To a Fellow Writer" and "Shloyme Mikhoels," By Rokhl Korn, translated by Seymour Levitan
"Los Angeles," By Israel Emiot, translated by Leah Zazulyer
"A Stretch of Time" and "News," By Ephraim Auerbach, translated by Ollie Elkus
Additional Selected English Translations of Yiddish Poetry
They’ve been gone a long time.
Now the letters arrive.
Asking for clothes, shoes,
A Yiddish book,
To translate the oy
And to recite Hallel
They’ve been long gone.
—Rivka Basman Ben-Haim, "Letters," translated by Kathryn Hellerstein
"Coney Island": A Dadaist Sound Poem by Victor Packer, translated by Henry Sapoznik
Excerpts from “Nine Months” and “Birth," By Esther Shumiatcher-Hirschbein, translated by Beata Kasiarz
"Our Town is Burning" and "A Beam of Sunlight," Two poems by Mordechai Gebirtig, translated by Murray Citron
“Letters,” “To Miriam Ulinover,” and “Letters,” By Rivka Basman Ben-Haim and Miriam Ulinover, translated by Kathryn Hellerstein
"Mortality," By Yehoash, translated by Marvin Zuckerman
Untitled [From My Days(1952)], By Bertha Kling, translated by Leah Zazulyer
"I Have Seen" By Rosa Nevadovska, translated by Merle Bachman
"Does It Mean I Long for You?" By Malka Locker, translated by Ri Turner
"Exodus 1947," By Rokhl Korn, translated by Miriam Isaacs
Selected Articles About Yiddish Poets and Poetry
Portrait of a “Jewish Poetess," A short piece by David Mazower
"The Destiny of a Poem," A personal-historical essay by Itzik Manger, translated by Murray Citron
"Last Star in the Night," A short piece about Avrom Sutzkever by Catherine Madsen
Melech Ravitch: My Friend Bertha Kling, Translated by Abigail Weaver
"Problematic, Fraught, Confusing, Paralyzing—and Fantastic," An article by Faith Jones about a 1927 anthology that gave female Yiddish poets their due
The Signs and Symbols of Ezra Korman, Detroit's Soulful Yiddish Poet, By Michael Yashinsky
“Destined to Create," A speech about the poetic impulse by Rokhl Korn, translated by Michael Yashinsky
Celia Dropkin's Paintings: A Poet Replaces Pen With Paintbrush, By Michael Yashinsky and Eitan Kensky
The Outback Quest of Yiddish Poet Melekh Ravitsh: Author Anna Epstein visits with us from her home in Australia to talk about her recently published book about Yiddish poet Melekh Ravitsh.
Asymptote's Yiddish Poetry in Translation: Alexander Dickow visited with The Shmooze to talk about Asymptote's recently published Yiddish poetry in translation feature.
Translating Experimental Yiddish Poet Celia Dropkin: We visit with translator Faith Jones to learn about the recently published The Acrobat: the Selected Poems of Celia Dropkin.
Alix Wall on the Legacy of Shmerke Kaczerginski's Song, "Dos Elnte Kind": Alix Wall and Marc Smolowitz discuss their upcoming film, The Lonely Child, based on a song written by Yiddish poet Shmerke Kaczerginski.
Through a Unique Jewish Lens: Author Lesléa Newman joins us to speak about her prolific writing career and how her books and poetry are informed by her being Jewish and a lesbian.
Chaim Grade's Elegy for the Soviet Yiddish Writers: Josh Price reads an excerpt from a Chaim Grade poem and discusses the context of this elegy for the Soviet Yiddish writers executed under Stalin's regime.
From our Collections: Digital Library, Oral Histories, Audio Recordings
Selected oral history playlists and excerpts
Playlist of people reading or reciting Yiddish poems or translations of Yiddish poems (viewable on Youtube)
Playlist of people talking about Yiddish poetry or poets (viewable on Youtube)
Ida Maze: The "Den Mother" of Yiddish Montreal (short film)
Selected Archival Recordings from the Frances Brandt Online Yiddish Audio Library (in Yiddish unless otherwise specified)
Jacob Glatstein on Yiddish Poetry After the Holocaust, in English and Yiddish (video)
Man Out of Time: Allen Ginsberg in Montreal, in English (article with four audio recordings)
Yehudah Amichai: A poetry reading, in English
Selections from the Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library (in Yiddish)
In heysn vint lider, By Celia Dropkin
Di gnod fun vort, By Rokhl Korn
Lider fun geto, By Avrom Sutzkever
Sibir poeme, By Avrom Sutzkever, with illustrations by Marc Chagall (illustrations in the header and teaser images for this page are from this book)
Yaakov Glatshteyn, by Jacob Glatstein
Lider, By Bertha Kling
Manekinen lider, By Dvoyre Fogel