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Mani Leib


MANI LEIB (pseudonym of Mani Leib Brahinsky ; 1883–1953), Yiddish poet. Born in Nizhyn (Chernigov district, Ukraine), Mani Leib arrived in the U.S. in 1905 after having participated in the Russian revolutionary movement. He immediately began publishing poems in New York's leading Yiddish periodicals and in the anthologies of the American Yiddish literary movement Di Yunge, which had impressionistic, art-for-art's-sake poetic principles that Leib helped to establish and followed faithfully. Largely eschewing social concerns, he crafted formally unified poems that affirmed a belief in the ability of art to compensate for human suffering. His "sound poems" drew renewed attention to the Yiddish language through their skillful use of alliteration and repetition. His most prolific year was 1918 when 11 of his collections appeared. His ballads and tales were incorporated into the Yiddish school curriculum and formed the basis of his widespread popularity. In 1925 he was coeditor, with Zishe *Landau and Reuben *Iceland, of Inzel ("Island"), one of the principal anthologies of Di Yunge. His reputation continued to grow after his death, when several volumes were published: Lider un Baladn ("Songs and Ballads," 2 vols. 1955); Sonetn ("Sonnets," 1961); the former volume was reprinted in 1963 with parallel Hebrew translations by Shimshon Meltzer, and an introduction by Itzik *Manger, who was in many respects a kindred spirit. The second volume of Lider un Baladn contains a short autobiographical sketch as well as an extensive bibliography. Mani Leib's lifelong relationship with the poet Rochelle Weprinsky is documented in Briv: 19181953 ("Letters: 1918–53," 1980).


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 306–10; lnyl, 5 (1963), 450–7; J. Glatstein, In Tokh Genumen (1956), 113–21; S.D. Singer, Dikhter un Prozaiker (1959), 5–54; A. Tabachnik, Dikhter un Dikhtung (1965), 140–69. add. bibliography: H. Bass, Mani Leib: Monografye (1978); R. Wisse, A Little Love in Big Manhattan (1988).

[Sol Liptzin /

Alisa Braun (2nd ed.)]

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