Translations - Fall/Winter 2004


Celia Dropkin (1888-1956) was born in the city of Bobroisk, White Russia, where she lived until she immigrated to New York in 1912. Although her first poems were in Russian, Dropkin began to write Yiddish poems in 1917 and, in 1920, to publish them in New York avant-garde literary journals. Her poems of sex, love, and death quickly earned her acclaim. She also wrote and published short stories. A single volume of Dropkin's poems appeared during her lifetime: In Heysn Vint (In the Hot Wind), in 1935. In 1943, she wrote a biography of her husband, which was never published. Three years after her death, Dropkin's children sponsored the publication of an expanded edition of her poetry, short stories, and paintings, also titled, In Heysn Vint (1959). This second book includes the poems of the 1935 edition, as well as previously uncollected and unpublished poems. (Biography courtesy of Kathryn Hellerstein)

Elke Erb was born in 1938 in Scherbad/Eifel, studied German and Slavic literatures at the University of Halle, and has been living in what used to be East Berlin. She has translated from the Russian (Gogol, Block, Tsvetaeva, Akhmatova) as well as a 13th century romance from the Georgian (Wis und Ramin), and edited a number of anthologies. She has published volumes: Gutachten (1979); Der Faden der Geduld (1978); ;Vexierbild (1983), Kastanienalle (1987); Winkelz?ge (1991); Nachts, halb zwei, zu hause, selected works (1991); and Unschuld, du Licht meiner Augen (1994). She has received the Peter-Huchel and the Heinrich-Mann prize (1988; 1990). Other translations (by Janet King/Guntram Weber, Duncan Smith, and Roderick Iverson) can be found in Dimension: Special GDR Issue (1973), Minnesota Review NS15 (1980), and Sulfur 27 (1990). The poems appearing here are taken from Erbs first three publications, selected and translated by Rosmarie Waldrop in Mountains in Berlin (Burning Deck Press, 1995).

Kathryn Hellerstein Kathryn Hellerstein is the Ruth Meltzer Senior Lecturer in Yiddish and Jewish Studies in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include her translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, In New York: A Selection, (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky (Wayne State University Press, 1999), and Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, of which she is co-editor (W. W. Norton, 2000). Her current projects include Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets and a critical book, A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, supported in 1999-2000 by a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.



Mistral Gabriela Mistral was born Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga in Vicu?a, Chile, in 1889. Her father has been described as a “vagabond poet.” She started to write poetry at the age of nine under the name of Gabriela Mistral. She made a living as a young woman by teaching elementary and secondary school; one of her pupils was the young Pablo Neruda. Her love poems, Sonetos de la Muerte, published in 1914, made her famous throughout Latin America. Her collection Desolaci?>=n was published in 1922, and Ternura in 1924. Tala was published in 1938, and her complete poetry in 1958. In 1923, Mistral was awarded the title "Teacher of the Nation" by her own government. She played an active role in cultural committees of the League of Nations and also an influential role in the educational systems of Mexico and Chile. She held honorary degress from the Universities of Florence and Guatemala, and, in later years, taught Spanish literature at Columbia, Vassar, Middlebury College, and the University of Puerto Rico. She was the first Latin American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945. She died in the United States in 1957.

Molodowsky Kadya Molodowsky (1894-1975) was a major figure in the Yiddish literary scene both in Warsaw (from the 1920's through 1935) and in New York (where she lived from 1935 until her death). A teacher in the Yiddish schools in Warsaw as a young woman, she was best known for her children's poems. After she came to the United States, she wrote for the Yiddish press and founded and edited a literary journal, Sviva (Surroundings), which she published for three decades. In addition to six major books of poems, published between 1927 and 1965, as well as plays and essays, Molodowsky published two novelsFun lublin biz nyu-york: togbukh fun rivke zilberg (From Lublin to New York: Diary of Rivke Zilberg) (1942), and Baym toyer: roman fun dem lebn in yisroel (At the Gate: A Novel of Life in Israel) (1967)and a collection of short stories, A shtub mit zibn fentster (A House with Seven Windows) (1957), from which "The Fourth Mitzvah" is translated.

Hadassah Rubin

J.C.Todd J.C.Todd 's translations of the poems of Iv?>=n Gordon Vailakis have appeared previously in The Drunken Boat and in Crab Orchard Review and are forthcoming in The Bucks County Writer and Drexel On-Line Journal. Todd's poems have recently appeared in APR and the Four Way Press anthology Shade. The bilingual ms of Colibries en el exilio is seeking a publisher. J.C. Todd is a contributing editor for The Drunken Boat with a regular column riverviews.

Ulinover Miriam Ulinover(1888-1944) was born in Lodz, Poland, and perished in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Her first poems and stories were in Polish, Russian, and German at age 15, but by 1915, she was writing and publishing poetry in Yiddish. She published one book of poetry, Der bobes oytser [My Grandmother's Treasure] (Warsaw, 1922). Although she prepared a second book manuscript, which was entitled Shabes, the publication of this book was prevented by the Nazi occupation of Poland and the manuscript did not survive the war. Bilingual, book-length editions of Ulinover's poems have appeared translated into Hebrew (Haotser shel hasavta , translated by Yehoshua San Pay, Jerusalem, 1975) and into French (Un bonjour du pays natal, edited by Natalia Krynicka, translated by Batia Baum, Paris, 2003). (Biography courtesy of Kathryn Hellerstein)

Vailakis Iv?>=n Gordon Vailakis is a native of Quito, Ecuador. Her latest poetry collection Manzanilla del insomnio(2002) was awarded in Ecuador the prestigious Jorge Carrera Andrade Award in Poety. Colibr?!=es en el exilio ) (1997) was a finalist for Casa de las Am?ricas Award, and the poems from her new manuscript-in-progress were finalist of Brazil's International Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Drunkenboat , Drexel Review, Frigate: Transverse Review of Books, , Crab Orchard Review, Blue Mesa Review and many others. She has published short stories, a memoir, translations of her own poetry and of Gabriela Mistral. She has published many articles on Jorge Carrera Andrade, Gabriela Mistral, Sandra Cisneros, Helena Mar?!=a Viramontes, Carmen Boullosa, and others in academic journals in Spain, Chile, Ecuador, and the U.S. She has two books in progress, one dealing with the critical work of Gabriela Mistral, and the other on the figure of La Llorona in Latina Writers(2002) She was a recipient of Senior/Scholar Fellowship from the Fulbright to research on the Converse Jews in Ecuador which led to Manzanilla del insomnio. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine on Latin American Literature, with emphasis on Contemporary Latin American Poetry and Literary Theory, and teaches at Redlands University.

Waldrop Rosmarie Waldrop was born in Germany in 1935. She lives Providence, RI with Keith Waldrop (with whom she also co-edits Burning Deck Press). Her books of poetry include A Key Into the Language of America, Split Infinites, the trilogy, The Reproduction of Profiles, Lawn of Excluded Middle, Reluctant Gravities, and a Selected Poems, Another Language. Two novels, The Hanky of Pippins Daughter and A Form/of Taking/It All have recently been reprinted in one paperback by Northwestern University Press. She has translated 14 volumes of Edmond Jab?s's work and has also translated, from the French, Jacques Roubaud and Emmanuel Hocquard; and from the German, Friederike Mayr??cker, Ernst Jandl, Oskar Pastior, and Elke Erb. Her poetry has been anthologized in Postmodern American Poetry (Norton, 1994), From the Other Side of the Century: New American Poetry 1960-90, (Sun & Moon, 1994). Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women (Talisman House, 1998) and Poems for the Millennium, vol. II (University of California Press, 1998) Translations of her work have been published in France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Serbia and Mexico. She has received awards or fellowships from the NEA, the Fund for Poetry, the Howard Foundation, the DAAD Berlin Artists Program, and the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Writers Award. The French government has made her a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.