About the project inviting Irena Klepfisz to Stockholm, May 2019
“I see now the present dangers, the dangers of the void, of the American hollowness in which I walk calmly day and night as I continue my life. I begin to see the incessant grinding down of lines for stamps, for jobs, for a bed to sleep in, of a death stretched imperceptibly over a lifetime. I begin to understand the ingenuity of it. The invisibility. The Holocaust without smoke.” --Irena Klepfisz, “A Few Words in the Mother Tongue: Poems Selected and New” (1971-1990), Portland: Eighth Mountain, 1990, 193.
This project has been created to organise a series of events in Stockholm to meet the amazing poet, teacher, Irena Klepfisz, that will share her stories with us.Irena Klepfisz – for the time in her life – will revisit Stockholm, where she lived for few years in her transitional period between Poland, where she was born and New York, where she has been living since 1949.
Irena will visit the town, the places she lived and attended school and have a poetry.discussion meeting.
The event will be mainly devoted to her poetry.
Irena Klepfisz is a poet, Yiddish translator, and teacher of Jewish Women Studies. She was born in 1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto and eventually hidden in a Catholic orphanage. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising claimed the life of her father, Michal Klepfisz, a resistance fighter and a Bund activist who was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari medal.
After the Warsaw Uprising, she and her mother, Rosa Perczykow-Klepfisz, hid in a village until the liberation. They then moved to Lodz and, in 1946, emigrated to Sweden, and in 1949, to the United States.
Irena Klepfisz has been active in feminist, lesbian, Jewish secular and peace organizations. She began publishing her poetry in 1971 and soon focused her research on Yiddish women writers (e.g. Kadya Molodovsky and Fradl Shtok). She co-founded the feminist literary magazine Conditions and served as the Yiddish editor of the Jewish feminist magazine Bridges. She also co-edited The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Woman's Anthology. She is the author of A Few Words in the Mother Tongue (Poetry) and Dreams of an Insomniac (Essays). While teaching Jewish Women's Studies at Barnard College, Klepfisz also taught for ten years at a maximum-security women's prison. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and was recently awarded the prestigious Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award 2016
Bashert Tour in Poland (2017)
Audio document from the meeting with Irena Klepfisz at Polin (2017)