Billboards in the rain, Dvorah Fogel #YiddishPoetry …Today the rain dissolved the vermilion letters

“Together with her husband and son, Fogel was killed in the Lwów ghetto in 1942.

Fogel’s remarkable experimental poetry, all written in the 1930s, was, in the spirit of early twentieth-century art, radically avant-garde and attuned to all the modernist minimalisms.

She attempted to fuse modern art and poetry in a new style that she termed “white words,” striving, as she put it, to create a new lyric poetry of the urban condition: a poetry of cool stasis and of geometric ornamentation with a rhythm of repetition that can replace melodiousness and dynamism, in which monotone becomes theme.

In her creative prose she employed repetitive detached impressions (“montages”) to achieve the same goals.

Contemporaneous and later critics considered her style too intellectual, studied and obscure, and lacking in traditional Jewish and feminine thematics.

Yet Fogel herself regarded her project not as a deliberate experiment, but rather as “a necessity, achieved and paid for with life’s experience.

Billboards in the rain.

Today the rain coats gray houses
with another coat
of gray,

you, far away.

Everyone away,
there’s no one to be with.

I lean
against a wall of billboards
pasted with posters of lemon and orange.

Today the rain dissolved
the vermilion letters
announcing the film
of the red ballerina.

Red lines, caressing,
and other hands heavily moving
across hot yellow figures.

In a row of ten gray houses
a red and yellow wall of boards,
the only sign of life.

And one can lean against it
as against the human body
now far off,
out of reach.

Dvorah/Dvoyre Fogel

From: a Treasury of Yiddish Poetry edited by Irving Howe and Liezer Greenberg.



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