Dropkin, Celia

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DROPKIN, CELIA (1887–1956), Yiddish poet. Born Zipporah Levine in Bobruisk, Belorussia, daughter of a lumber merchant, Dropkin was raised by her widowed mother. Taught Jewish subjects by a rabbi's wife, she graduated from the Novosybko (Russian) gymnasium. She tutored in Warsaw, before continuing her studies in Kiev. There, the Hebrew writer Uri Nissan *Gnessin encouraged her writing of Russian poetry. Returning to Warsaw, then to Bobruisk, Dropkin married Samuel Shmaye Dropkin in 1909. She and their first child (born 1910) joined him in New York in 1912. Five of their six children survived into adulthood. In New York, Dropkin wrote Russian poems which she translated into Yiddish (1917) and published in Di Naye Velt and Inzikh (1920). Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, her works appeared in avant-garde publications of Di *Yunge and the Inzikhistn: Onheyb, Poezye, and Shriftn. Dropkin's poems – notable for their explicit sexuality, whether about love, motherhood, or death – earned her a reputation as a leading woman poet. Her short stories and poems also appeared in Abraham *Liessin's *Tsukunft. Only a single volume of Dropkin's poems appeared during her lifetime: In Heysn Vint ("In the Hot Wind," 1935). Widowed in 1943, she spent her last years painting in oils and water colors. Her last published poem appeared in Tsukunft (April 1953).

Three years after Dropkin's death, her children published an expanded edition of her poetry, short stories, and paintings: In Heysn Vint (1959) includes the poems of the 1935 edition, as well as uncollected and previously unpublished poems, selected by Sasha Dillon. Another poem, "Shvere Gedanken" ("Heavy Thoughts"), was later discovered on a tape recording and appeared in Yidishe Kultur (1990). Poems and stories in English translation appeared in I. Howe and E. Greenberg (eds.), A Treasury of Yiddish Poetry (1969); I. Howe et al. (eds.), Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse (1987); F. Forman et al. (eds.), Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers (1994); R. Whitman (ed.), Anthology of Modern Yid-dish Poetry (1995); J. Chametzky et al. (eds.), Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology (2001); S. Bark (ed.), Beautiful as the Moon, Radiant as the Stars: Jewish Women in Yiddish Stories (2003).


lnyl, 2 (1958), 540–1; Rejzen, Leksikon, 1 (19262), 742–3; Y. Yeshurin, in: In Heysn Vint, Poems, Stories, and Pictures (1959), 271–3; S. Dillon, in: ibid., 263–9; G. Rozier and V. Siman, in: Dans le vent chaud: Bilingue yiddish-francais (1994); J. Hadda, in: N. Sokoloff et al. (eds.), Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature (1992), 93–112; K. Hellerstein, in ibid., 113–43.

[Kathryn Hellerstein (2nd ed.)]