Maze, Ida

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MAZE, IDA (1893–1962) Yiddish poet. Born near Kapuly, Belarus; she arrived in Canada with her family in 1907, eventually settling in Montreal. Her family, the Zhukovskys, were distantly related to Sholem Yankev *Abramovitsh (Mendele Mokher Sforim) and were intellectual though poor. She began writing poems of grief in 1928, following the death of her eldest son. These poems were collected in A Mame ("A Mother," 1931). Throughout her career the majority of her poems were either for children or about her children (she had two surviving sons); some of them took in natural themes. Her talents lay chiefly in her ability to write engrossing, fluid, and sometimes urgent rhythms and rhymes. Her later books were Lider far Kinder ("Poems for Children," 1936), Naye Lider ("New Poems," 1941) and Vaksn Mayne Kinderlekh ("Grow, My Little Ones," 1954). An autobiographical novel, Dinah, was published posthumously (1970). More important than her own output, however, was her role in the Montreal Yiddish artistic community which centered around the Jewish Public Library. Her apartment served as a literary salon for writers at every level, the more famous coming simply to read aloud and find literary companions while the lesser known workshopped their poems with a critical audience. In addition to this, Maze spent most of her time arranging visas, work permits, or actually finding jobs for the Yiddish-speaking refugees who came through Montreal. Although much of her aid went to Yiddish writers, she was as generous with the lesser as with the major talents. Canadian historian David Rome reported her appeal on behalf of one struggling poet: "He needs help, not only because he is penniless and his family is falling apart, but because he doesn't have a speck of talent" (Massey, 54). These endeavors earned her the nickname "the mother of Yiddish writers." Among those who spent a great deal of time in her apartment were Melech *Ravitch, Rokhl *Korn, and J.J. *Segal. Visitors from the United States included Kadya *Molodowsky, Moyshe *Nadir, and H. *Leivick. The English-language poet Miriam *Waddington, whose family spoke Yiddish at home, attended these salons as a teenager. Maze's impact seems to have largely consisted of imparting by example her ideas about literature: its place as a feature of everyday life, in which every member of society is equally implicated and from which every individual of whatever talents could draw his or her own intellectual sustenance.


Massey, Identity and Community: Reflections on English, Yiddish and French Literature in Canada (1994); M. Waddington, "Mrs. Maze's Salon," in: Canadian Woman Studies 16/4, 119f; lnyl 5, 402f; C.L. Fuks, 100 Yor Yidishe un Hebreishe Literatur in Kanade (1982): 156f.

[Faith Jones (2nd ed.)]