“Oh, darkness leave my doorway for a while!” the Yiddish poet Esther Shumyatsher pleads in a poem written in 1938, as the lives of European Jews grew ever bleaker. But this anthology of poems by members of Proletpen, the leftist Yiddish writers’ group formed in New York between the two world wars, mostly includes poems written on subjects that directly impacted the young immigrant Jews who lived, loved, and worked in a city far removed from the shtetls of Europe. The poems, written in Yiddish with a masterful translation by Amelia Glaser, are a window into the lives of a group of socialist writers who spoke out passionately about everything from racism to the plight of the worker and the grinding poverty they confronted on a daily basis. Ascholarly introduction by Dovid Katz of the University of Vilnius, Lithuania, places the poetry in the political and social context of the time. Biographical sketches of the poets, bibliography.
Proletpen: America’s Rebel Yiddish Poets
Shira R. London is the librarian at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School in Baltimore, MD. She holds an M.L.S. from Columbia University.
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