Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath

Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath

Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath

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Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath (born 1958) is a Yiddish-language poet who was born in The Bronx, New York, USA. She grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home and attended Yiddish schools as a child. She began writing poetry, much of which was published in the journals Yugntruf and Afn Shvel, in 1980. Several poems were published in English and Yiddish in Hadassah magazine, the literary journal Five Fingers Review, and various anthologies. While her poems range widely in subject matter, her lyric technique is remarkably consistent. She tends towards short poems of no more than two pages, exploring single incidents or observations fully but using highly compressed language. She uses rhyme in many but not all poems, and varies rhyme scheme within a poem when necessary. She uses a variety of meter as well as unmetered verse. While her technique produces poems of unusual intensity, they are leavened with playfulness and puns. Her subject matter includes big questions such as marriage and grief; and small questions such as baking a failed loaf of bread. A poem about the day following the September 11, 2001 attacks is eerily still.

Her 2003 book Plutsemdiker Regn/Sudden Rain is a bilingual edition of about 40 of her poems in Yiddish and English. Although Schaechter-Viswanath is a native speaker of both languages, she does not write poetry in English and does not translate her own Yiddish works into English. Her translators are Zackary Sholem Berger, himself a poet in both English and Yiddish,...
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