Drunk From the Bit­ter Truth: The Poems of Anna Margoloin

Anna Mar­golin, Shirley Kumove, trans.
  • Review
By – July 13, 2012
Born Rosa Lebens­boym in Belarus in 1887, one of Yiddish’s most exper­i­men­tal and sto­ried poets emi­grat­ed to Amer­i­ca in 1913, pub­lish­ing only one vol­ume of poems in 1929 before set­tling into a lat­er life of embit­tered affairs and heart­break. Drunk from the Bit­ter Truth col­lects that one book, Lid­er, in addi­tion to lat­er uncol­lect­ed poems print­ed — often­times begrudg­ing­ly — in dai­ly Yid­dish news­pa­pers, which usuaal­ly favored sim­pler verse as opposed to the abstrac­tions of the so-called di yunge” (The Younger Gen­er­a­tion) or inzikhistn” (The Intro­spec­tivists) of the 1920s. Mar­golin loved many of the poets involved with these groups, though she was a mem­ber of nei­ther: I have wan­dered so much, beloved/​through strange and dark lives,/through hearts like waste­lands — /​be kind. This astound­ing bilin­gual edi­tion presents Mar­golin com­plete for the first time in Eng­lish, and for the first time in Yid­dish in over 50 years. Trans­la­tor, edi­tor and intro­duc­er Shirley Kumove has done Jew­ish let­ters an amaz­ing ser­vice in her fine ren­di­tions, and won­der­ful­ly pre­sent­ed bio­graph­i­cal and bib­li­o­graph­ic mate­r­i­al. High­ly recommended.

Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in Atlantic City. His books include the nov­els Mov­ing KingsBook of Num­bersWitzA Heav­en of Oth­ers, and Caden­za for the Schnei­der­mann Vio­lin Con­cer­to; the short-fic­tion col­lec­tion Four New Mes­sages, and the non­fic­tion col­lec­tion Atten­tion: Dis­patch­es from a Land of Dis­trac­tion. Cohen was award­ed Israel’s 2013 Matanel Prize for Jew­ish Writ­ers, and in 2017 was named one of Granta’s Best Young Amer­i­can Nov­el­ists. He lives in New York City.

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