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Abba Kovner

Abba Kovner (1918-1987) was born in Sebastopol, Crimea, and grew up in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he graduated from the Hebrew Gymnasium. After the Nazi invasion, he joined the Jewish underground partisan organization, and in 1943 took command of the United Partisans Organization of the Vilnius ghetto. Shortly before the extermination of the ghetto, he led the Jewish Partisans' Battalion in the neighboring forests. An organizer of illegal immigration during the British Mandate, Kovner was imprisoned, freed and went on to fight in the War of Independence. He wrote his first collection of poetry in 1947, while imprisoned by the British. He then settled on Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, where he lived until his death. Kovner, a novelist and essayist, was most notably a poet. He has been critically acclaimed worldwide. He received the prestigious Israel Prize for his work. Abba Kovner's experiences during World War II and the establishment of the State of Israel influence his writing throughout. "Poetry," said Kovner, "is a request for forgiveness for what we do in our lives, and for what was done to us." His poetry is very personal, yet painfully universal. Using rhyme, assonance, unusual syntax and graphic technique with formidable technical skill, Kovner dissolves the barriers between we, you, I and she. "The struggle to survive is eternal and timeless," writes poet Shirley Kaufman. "Kovner knows it in everything he writes... His concerns transcend the concerns of one people. The central predicament of his poems is not national but metaphysical and moral." He questions how we remain human in an inhuman world.

Books Published in Hebrew            
While There is Still Night, Sifriat Poalim, 1947 [Ad-Lo-Or]            
Parting From the South, Sifriat Poalim, 1949 [Prida Me-Ha-Darom]           
Sandy Ground, Sifriat Poalim, 1961 [Admat Ha-Chol]            
Of All the Loves, Sifriat Poalim, 1965 [Mi-Kol Ha-Ahavot]            
My Little Sister, Sifriat Poalim, 1967 [Achoti Ha-Ktana]            
A Canopy in the Desert, Sifriat Poalim, 1970 [Chupa Ba-Midbar]

The Rhythm Band Appears, Sifriat Poalim, 1972 [Lehakat Ha-Ketzev Mofi'a Al Har Grizim]            
The Small Book, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1973 [Ha-Sefer Ha-Katan] Observation Points, Sifriat Poalim, 1977 [Tatzpit]            
To, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1980 [El]
Scrolls of Fire, Keter, 1981 [Megilot Ha-Esh]
Sloan-Kettering, Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1986 [Sloan Kettering]

Songs of Rosa, Sifriat Poalim, 1987 [Shirat Rosa]            
Collected Poems, Bialik Institute, 1996 [Kol Shirei Abba Kovner]

Delaying Wounds, Am Oved, 1998 [Le'akev Et Ha-Kri'a]

Wear Your Light, Shlomit, Sifriat Poalim, 2017 [Livshi Orech Shlomit: Me-Aba Le-Shlomit Bito]

Face to Face (2-vol. novel), Sifriat Poalim, 1953 [Panim El Panim]
On the Narrow Bridge (essays), Sifriat Poalim, 1981 [Al Ha-Gesher Ha-Tzar]
His Own and About Him, Beit Mordechai Anilevitch, 1988 [Mi-Shelo Ve-Alav]
Testimonial Scrolls, Bialik Institute, 1993 [Megilot Ha-Edut]

A Journey to the Land of Imagination (children), Sifriat Poalim, 1981 [Masa El Eretz Ha-Dimyon]
Something About Whales (children), Sifriat Poalim, 1989 [Mashehu Al Livyatanim]
Michael, the Little Angel (children), Sifriat Hapoalim, 1989 [Ha-Malach Ha-Katan Michael]

Books in Translation            
Abba Kovner and Nelly Sachs: Selected Poems            
English: Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1971            

A Canopy in the Desert            
English: Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973            

My Little Sister & Selected Poems            
English: Oberlin, Oberlin College Press, 1986            

Testimonial Scrolls            
Russian: Jerusalem, Aliya Library, 1989
Mother and Child
English: New York, World Zionist Organization, 1972  

Abba Kovner

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