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Menke, the Complete Yiddish Poems of Menke Katz

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Overview

As the only Yiddish poet to become a major poet in English as well, Katz (1906-1991) was a stylistic innovator and controversial figure as noted in the substantial introduction. In this first translation into English of the complete works of a major Yiddish poet, poems such as "Burning Village" (1938) and "Safad" (1979) blend New York or European shtetl life with Jewish mysticism. Images include illustrations from the original edition of Midday (1954), photos of Katz's family and peers, and a map of Menke's ...
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More About This Book

Overview

As the only Yiddish poet to become a major poet in English as well, Katz (1906-1991) was a stylistic innovator and controversial figure as noted in the substantial introduction. In this first translation into English of the complete works of a major Yiddish poet, poems such as "Burning Village" (1938) and "Safad" (1979) blend New York or European shtetl life with Jewish mysticism. Images include illustrations from the original edition of Midday (1954), photos of Katz's family and peers, and a map of Menke's world. The Harshav's (Benjamin is at Yale U.) are renowned for their translations of Yiddish poetry. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882986217
  • Publisher: Smith, The
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 914
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 2.50 (d)

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    collected works of 20th century Jewish/Yiddish poet

    Two of the people who knew Menke Katz (1906-1991) best write introductory essays to the hundreds of pages of collected poems--the poet's son and his long-time publishers. Dovid Katz's biographical and literary introduction is over 100 pages. In Harry Smith's seven-page Preface, he notes that Menke Katz's poems 'spanned the alleys of Michaleshik [in Katz's homeland of Lithuania] and the streets of New York--folklore and factories, the Hill of Svir and skyscraper, the Kabbalah's mysticism and the Talmud's reaching, against the horrors and wonders of the 20th century.' Katz was a lifelong refugee, not only from the mid 20th-century troubles of Europe in which Jews bore the brunt, but also from many of the trends and conventions of modernism. Although Katz's poems are unmistakably modernist, they maintain a pronounced singular touch. Because he was a freethinker who would, for example, begin experimenting in his late poems, Katz cannot be pigeonholed with any school, style, or group although he was a friend or associate of many writers and artists who were. The restlessness, ambivalences, yearnings, and disappointments of this status of being an outsider of history and nationalities surface in the poems--e. g., 'In my alleys--the gray houses/clamor for light/Like blind crows with shorn wings...' [from Night in Downtown} 'Lest you cry recall/That a stray spark of light goes out somewhere/Lully-lully-lullaby, my orphan,/Lully-lullaby.' [from 'A Kind of a Lullaby] The course of Katz's long poetic career embraces the horrors, sadnesses, and hopes of the 20th century, the pains and perspectives of the Jewish emigre crystallizing those of multitudes of moderns in the conflicts and the rush of the 20th century, and the particular wisdom, wit, and expression of Yiddish culture. Comprehension and appreciation of 20th-century Jewish and Yiddish literature, and of poetry in particular, without familiarity with Menke Katz's poetry is incomplete.

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