Paper Towers

Poems by Kadya Molodowsky with translations by Kathryn Hellerstein. Woodcuts and engravings by Sarah Horowitz. 2005
11 x 10.75 inches with clam shell box, edition of 25. SOLD OUT

Bio info-
Kadya Molodowsky was born in 1894 in Bereza Kartuska, a town located in White Russia. Molodowsky was unusually well educated, first by her grandmother who taught her the alphabet and Yiddish prayers, and then by her father and Russian tutors with whom she studied Torah, Russian language, geography, philosophy, and world history. This education enabled Molodowsky to earn a teaching certificated at age 18. She began teaching in the schools of Yechiel Halperin, a Hebrew revivalist, helping to develop the modern Jewish secular education. World War I forced Molodowsky to travel extensively as the schools where she taught were relocated.

Eventually she moved on to Kiev in 1917 to join an avant-garde Yiddish literary group. It was there that she published her poems for the first time in the journal Eygns (Our Own). In 1924 Molodowsky moved to another literary community in Warsaw where she became acquainted with Yiddish writers, including I. J. Singer, I. Bashevis Singer, Peretz Markish, and Melech Ravitch, published in their journal, Literarishe bleter (Literary Papers), and published her first book of poetry, Kheshvndike nekht (Nights of Heshvan). Molodowsky moved again in 1935 to New York where she lived until her death in 1975. There she founded two Yiddish journals and continued to publish the rest of her eight poetry books. Molodowsky explored themes of home, questions of God, Jewish identity, and later on, redemption. In 1971 she was awarded the Manger Prize for Yiddish Literature by the State of Israel, the highest prize given to Yiddish writers.

The poems I chose for this book are from her last two books: Der Melekh dovid aleyn iz geblibn (Only King David Remained) 1946, and Likht fun dornboym (Light of the Thorn Bush) 1965. The poems are connected by themes of illusion, reality, and redemption and of the essence of life within language, paper, and text. My title Paper Towers, based on Molodowsky's "Paper Bridges", symbolizes the worlds we build of paper, text, and concepts, and their simultaneous strength and fragility. (Source: Hellerstein, Kathryn, Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI, 1999)