Partner Eva Kollisch

naomiNaomi Replansky (born May 23, 1918) is an American poet who was born in the Bronx; she currently resides in Manhattan. Her Collected Poems won the Poetry Society of America's 2013 William Carlos Williams Award and was a finalist for the 2014 Poets' Prize. Replansky's poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, such as No More Masks!, Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, Inventions of Farewell: A Book of Elegies, and Poets of the Non-Existent City: Los Angeles in the McCarthy Era. Her four books of poetry are:

"My chief poetic influences," Replansky states, "have been William Blake, folk songs, Shakespeare, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson and Japanese poetry."[1]

Ring Song, containing poems written from 1936 to 1952, was nominated for the National Book Award. Of the following hiatus in publication, she says, “I write slowly.”[2] The chapbook Twenty-One Poems contains versions of work contained in the other two collections. The Dangerous World contains forty-two new poems as well as twenty-five revised poems from Ring Song. The meticulousness of her work indicates a painstaking mind and an unusual degree of perfectionism in the craftsmanship of her poems. Though often small in scale, they are giant in meaning.

The clarity and power of Replansky's work have been praised by such writers as David Ignatow, Marie Ponsot, Grace Paley, and Ursula K. Le Guin. George Oppen wrote of her in 1981: “Naomi Replansky must be counted among the most brilliant American poets. That she has not received adequate praise is one of the major mysteries of the world of poetry.”[3] Booklist said of The Dangerous World, “with timeless grace, she sets each poem simmering with powerful phrasing and universal experience.... Replansky brings us ageless work in a collection that should not be missed.”[4]

She is also known for her translations from Yiddish and from the German of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Bertolt Brecht; Brecht's "Der Sumpf," set by composer Hanns Eisler as one of five "Hollywood Elegies," was long known only in her version ("The Swamp") until the original resurfaced among Peter Lorre's papers and was published in the 1997 Frankfurt edition. Her translation of Brecht's play, "St. Joan of the Stockyards" was performed off-Broadway by the Encounter Theater Company. She has been a guest teacher at Pitzer College. She has given readings in New York, Minneapolis and elsewhere, and has resided in Paris, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Replansky's work has been featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. An oil on linen portrait of Replansky by the artist Joseph Solman is in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

She lives in New York City; her companion is the writer Eva Kollisch. Naomi and Eva were introduced by Grace Paley in 1986. As Naomi recalled in 2000, “I was going to a reading of Grace’s at Gay Women’s Alternative at the Unitarian Church on 76th St. I had gone to a few lectures but didn’t go regularly; I felt out of place because I was so much older. But Grace was the magnet. Eva was there, she was a close friend of Grace’s from Sarah Lawrence College where they both taught. We began talking, about literature. Then Grace came along and introduced us.”

“It just feels right and natural and I love Naomi, and so in a certain sense, it is very simple. But I was quite fortunate, I think, that I wasn’t a lesbian, practicing, or even fantasizing too much, at a time when it was so taboo that you had to hide completely, or had to feel shame, or you had to go meet in bars,” Eva said in a wide-ranging interview in 2004. “I didn’t go through this period of great suffering that so many women did in the ’40s and ’50s, and by the 1960s, you know, it was a part of my androgyny, really, to have loved some men and to love women.”

In 2016, Naomi and Eva won the 2016 Clara Lemlich Social Activist Award.


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