Penn, Alexander

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PENN, ALEXANDER (1906–1972), Hebrew poet. Born in Nizhne-Kolymsk, Russia, he came under the influence of Mayakovski, Yesenin, and *Pasternak, and wrote poetry in Russian. In 1927 he settled in Palestine where he founded, together with Nathan Axelrod, the first film studio. In 1929, encouraged by A. *Shlonsky, he began to publish his poems which were mostly lyrical, inspired by the Israel landscape. He was also, however, a pioneer of the topical political chanson. His poems were published in Ketuvim, Moznayim, Davar, and Turim. According to his own testimony, 1934 was a turning point in his literary work, when he cut down on his lyrical poetry and devoted himself increasingly to poems of political and social message, which he published mainly in the Marxist press. From 1947 he served as editor of the literary and art supplement of the Communist daily, Kol ha-Am. A selection from his poetry was published in Russian translation in the Soviet Union (1965), the collection of translations from modern Hebrew poetry published in Russian in the Soviet Union. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Penn left Maki, the Israel Communist Party, because of its "nationalistic regression." A collection of his poems (Beli Gag), including an introduction by Uzi Shavit, was published in 1985. The poems and songs written by Penn were edited and published in two volumes in 2005.


G. Kressel, Leksikon, 2 (1967), 643–5. add. bibliography: Y. Saaroni, Penn u-Fanav; Deyukan u-Sevivato, in: Siman Keriah, 2 (1973), 295–308; Y. Besser, "Shirah shel Mamashut Kefulah," in: Yedioth Aharonoth (November 18, 1977); P. Ginosar, "Shiro ha-Ivri ha-Rishon shel A. Penn," in: Hadaor, 56:33 (1977), 547; H. Halperin, Yesodot Statiyyim ve-Dinamiyyim bi-Yẓirot Alexander Penn ve-Gilguleihem (1986); idem, Shalekhet Kokhavim: Alexander PennḤayyav vi-Yẓirato ad 1940 (1989); S. Yaniv, "Le-Gilgulah shel Tavnit Dzenerit (Yesenin, Shlonksy, Penn)," in: Alei Siah, 27–28 (1990), 41–49; H. Alon, "Ha-Ḥavayah ha-Nashit be-Shirav shel A. Penn," in: Iton 77, 278 (2003), 14–16.

[Getzel Kressel]