Papiernikov, Joseph

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PAPIERNIKOV, JOSEPH (1897–1993), Yiddish poet. Born in Warsaw, he attended a Russian secondary school. Because of his fine voice and sensitive ear for music, he was accepted as choir boy by Cantor Gershon *Sirota in the Tlomacka Synagogue in Warsaw. At an early age he joined the Left Po'alei Zion party, which supported the development of a modern Yiddish literature, and there he found the first audience for his lyrics. In 1924 he immigrated to Palestine, where he remained except for an extended sojourn in Poland (1929–33). After his first poem was published in 1918, his melodious poetry, with its rich imagery and folklike quality, was welcomed in numerous Yiddish journals in Poland and other countries, and his lyric "Zol Zayn az Ikh Boy in der Luft Mayne Shleser" ("I Build my Castles in the Air"), to which he also composed the music, became a popular folk song. Eight collections of Papiernikov's poems were printed before World War ii, including In Zunikn Land ("In the Sunny Land," 1927) and Far Mir un far Ale ("For Me and the Others," 1936) and a volume of his translations of S. Essenin's poetry (1933). A faithful lyric recorder of the hardships of the pioneers in the Jewish home-land, Papiernikov's post-Holocaust poetry, short stories, and memoirs, which were collected in several volumes, have a more elegiac tonality. He was honored with several literary awards, and a volume of tributes to him was published on the 40th anniversary of his settling in Israel: 40 Yor Papiernikov in Erets-Yisroel (1965).


Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1927), 870–1; M. Ravitch, Mayn Leksikon, 1 (1945), 159–61; 3 (1958), 309–12. add. bibliography: nlyl, 7 (1968), 105–7; D. Sadan, Heymishe Ksovim, 1 (1972), 133–9; E.S. Goldsmith, in: Jewish Book Annual, 47 (1989), 170–81.

[Israel Ch. Biletzky]