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Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Saturday, November 7, 2020, 6:00 - 7:30 pm - Women poets writing in Yiddish in the 20th century offer a powerful counterpoint to the impression that important literature in the mamaloshen (mother tongue) was written entirely by men. Women poets--and there were many in Eastern Europe and America--had plenty to contribute to the Yiddish-speaking world that challenged patriarchal projections of women as no more than wives, child-bearers, demonically-possessed seducers or passive objects of male authority and desire. Guided by the magnificent scholarship of Kathryn Hellerstein, this session will focus on a handful of leading women poets born in

Eastern Europe and continuing to write in Yiddish after emigrating to America.

Download poems (See folders at bottom of page) . . .


Please get a library copy or order the The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse, edited by Irving Howe, Ruth Wisse and Knone Shmeruk. The book, published in 1988, is out of print but there are used copies, very cheap, on Amazon and elsewhere. Just note that you may not receive the book for 7-10 days, so HURRY. Read the poems by Margolin, Dropkin, Molodowsky and Tussman, not too much to read. About 20 short poems.

Many consider Kadya Molodowsky (1894-1975) to be among the greatest Yiddish poets and we will focus especially on her work. So please also consider getting a copy of Kathryn Hellerstein's book Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State U Press, 1999). Read Hellerstein's new translations of Molodowsky in the Penguin book and luxuriate in the body of Molodowsky's work. Don't overlook Hellerstein's introduction. It will add invaluable biographical, historical and comparative literary perspectives on her work.

Also see:



We love Kathryn Hellerstein's masterpiece work, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586-1987 (Stanford U Press, 2014). Recommended: Ch. 5, "The Art of Sex: Celia Dropkin and Anna Margolin," and Ch. 6, "Prayer-Poems against History: Kadya Molodowsky and Malka Heifetz Tussman."

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