Page 380 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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J
e w i s h
B
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A
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universalism. His verse, influenced by the teachings of Reb Yisrael
Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidut, transpierces the depths
of his emotions, feelings, thoughts, dreams and hopes that moti-
vate a creative genius. His virtuosity in the use of Yiddish makes
almost every poem a gift of surprises as regards lingual archi-
tecture, and the musical possibilities of Yiddish words and
expressions and of Hebrew terms and idioms within the Yiddish
language, blend into a felicitous unity of poetic content and form.
Jewish martyrdom during the years of World War II, the struggle
for Jewish survival in the Diaspora, the revival of Jewish national
independence through the State of Israel, and Glatstein’s Jewish
reminiscences are among the central themes of his verse.
“It has been said of the Jews that they are like any other people,
only more so. The same can be applied to Yiddish verse: it is
like any other poetry, only more so. The ‘more so’ of Yiddish
poetry derives from the fact that in our own era Yiddish has been
blessed with a poet of the calibre and stature of Yaakov Glatstein,
who is among the colossi in twentieth century world literature.”
The judges for the Hebrew poetry award were Dr. Eisig Silber-
schlag, dean of the Hebrew Teachers College of Boston, Dr. Jacob
Kabakoff, dean of the College of Jewish Studies of Cleveland,
and Dr. Milton Arfa, professor of Hebrew at Hunter College,
New York. Speaking on behalf of the judges in presenting the
$250 award and a citation to Leonard D. Friedland, Dr. Arfa said:
“We are pleased to present this year’s Florence and Harry
Kovner Memorial Award for Hebrew poetry to Eliezer (Leonard)
D. Friedland, author of
Shirim be-Sulam M ino r
(Poems in a
Minor Key). In this slender but impressive volume, our poet has
collected the choice fruits of over thirty years of literary labor.
Indeed, Friedland has distinguished himself over the years as an
editor, essayist, and translator of American poetry. He has pub-
lished translations from the works of Edwin Arlington Robinson,
Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, Robinson Jeffers,
Karl Shapiro, and above all, his translation of Shakespeare’s
Measure for Measure
now ready for the press.
“Someday, in appraising the rise and decline of Hebrew writing
in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century,
it will be noted by some yet unknown historian that during the
30’s and 40’s a valiant effort was made by a small group of assertive
young Hebrew writers to write the second chapter in the abbre-
viated history of American Hebrew literature. But what was meant
to be an aftergrowth and a sequel turned out to be merely a
postscript and an epilogue. The literary remains of this second
generation of Hebrew writers on this continent are preserved in
the fragile issues of two lively, provocative, but short-lived maga-
zines called
N iv
and
A llel.