When Rokhl Korn settled in Montreal in 1948, the period she called her “years of wandering” (na v’nod yorn) finally came to an end. Yet a profound sense of dislocation marks the poetry she produced in this postwar urban setting, where a declining Yiddish culture formed a “third solitude” bounded on either side by Quebec’s hostile Anglo-Protestant and French-Catholic communities. The lush natural description and images of Polish–Jewish harmony of Korn’s prewar poetry were replaced in her postwar poetry by somber symbolism, in which the recurring motif of white paper signifies the futile attempt to recreate a vanished world. Tracing the imagistic shift in Korn’s writing from thriving trees to lifeless paper, this essay explores what Korn regarded as the transformation of Yiddish from an organic, indigenous aspect of interwar Poland to an uprooted, moribund refugee language within a culturally divided urban space. The essay thus sheds light on an underexplored Yiddish woman poet while expanding the dominant narrative of American Yiddish literature to include the unique experience of Holocaust refugees in Montreal.


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pp. 349-377
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