Texts & Translation

װײַבעריקום טאַלאַנטיקום אײַנלײַטיגונגס

Womanistic Talentistic Introductionarium

Froym-Leyb Volfson

Translation by David Mazower, Anita Norich and Faith Jones

INTRODUCTION

A. Fotograf” (A pho­tog­ra­ph­er) was one of many pseu­do­nyms of the humorist Froym-Leyb Volf­son. Born in Latvia in 1867, he set­tled in Philadel­phia and wrote for a vari­ety of news­pa­pers, pri­mar­i­ly in verse. The poem below is one of many he wrote cel­e­brat­ing writ­ers and pub­lic fig­ures. He alter­nates between praise and deri­sion, as was his style. The iden­ti­ty of the writer who comes in for the strongest scorn (“Sweet Marie”) is not eas­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able – seem­ing­ly by design.

This piece appeared as Vay­berikum talan­tikum ayn­laytin­gungs,” in Der kibetser, 15 May 1914, p.4. It was trans­lat­ed by David Mazow­er with Ani­ta Norich and Faith Jones. 

Fur­ther Read­ing:
On Efroim Leyb Volf­son
On Yente Ser­datsky
Yente Ser­datsky: Books in Yid­dish
On Emma Gold­man
Emma Gold­man: Books in Yid­dish
On Rachel Luria
Rachel Luria: Books in Yid­dish
On Miri­am Karpilove
Miri­am Karpilove: Books in Yid­dish
Miri­am Karpilove: Books in Eng­lish 1,2, 3

My “types” till now have all been men,
Creators of fine books and art,
As if the world were like a monk,
With women–playing no part.

And yet, among the Jewish folk,
Are women skilled and clever,
There’s one such spirit, pure and bright,
Her name: Serdatsky, Yente.

What a great and wonderful talent she has,
Her pen surveys and encompasses,
Her chest so large heaves and beats strong
For them – for the working masses.

Her stories are often risqué, pornographic,
Especially about men and their psyche,
She tells it straight, unvarnished and clear,
In colors so plain and low-key.

Jehovah has given us so many women,
Who awaken the masses to battle,
All over the city, in halls, parks and streets,
With words, with chatter and prattle.

We thank God who has blessed us with young “Sweet Marie” 1 1 It’s not clear who is described in this stanza.
A beauty with long golden tresses
An Austrian goose with the tongue of an ox,
So wise – she awes and impresses.

As for Goldman I rate her a “little type” at the least, 2 2 Emma Goldman’s writing and speaking was political rather than belletristic; her inclusion in this list of prominent writers is somewhat surprising.
She towers above all, in spirit,
Her tongue self-promoting inspires the greenhorns,
As much as authorities fear it.

And Rokhele Lurye, petite and brunette
Who writes for Yanovsky’s weekly, 3 3 Saul Yanovsky was the editor and publisher of the Fraye arbeter shtime (The Free Voice of Labor), an anarchist newspaper. Yiddish newspapers of all political stripes often published literature.
Will become a great talent in time, I bet,
Her name esteemed most completely.

And what about Miriam Karpilove, the “greatest”
A blessing for Yidishe mamas,
She counts as a “type” with no reservation,
For her “sketches,” as well as her “dramas.”

So all of you, writers and artists, be warned,
You gentlemen carefully pomaded,
In the future you’ll find yourselves sharing this space
With our very talented maidens!

MLA STYLE
Volfson, Froym-Leyb. “Womanistic Talentistic Introductionarium.” In geveb, December 2023: Trans. David Mazower, Anita Norich, and Faith Jones. https://ingeveb.org/texts-and-translations/womanistic-talentistic-introductionarium.
CHICAGO STYLE
Volfson, Froym-Leyb. “Womanistic Talentistic Introductionarium.” Translated by David Mazower, Anita Norich, and Faith Jones. In geveb (December 2023): Accessed Feb 26, 2024.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Froym-Leyb Volfson

ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS

David Mazower

David Mazower is chief curator and writer of Yiddish: A Global Culture, the major new permanent exhibition at the Yiddish Book Center, where he is Research Bibliographer and Editorial Director.

Anita Norich

Anita Norich is Tikva Frymer-Kensky Collegiate Professor Emerita of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.

Faith Jones

Faith Jones is a librarian and translator in Vancouver, Canada.