This Week in JPL History: the poet J.I. Segal

J.I. Segal standing beside gravestone of Reuben Brainin in Montreal.

On January 28, 1953 the Library sponsored a program in honour J.I. Segal at the Jewish People’s School. It was one of many programs which Segal participated in at the Library. For many, the poet needs no introduction; he and his work are familiar and perhaps even an influence. For others, this Yiddish writer and poet is an unknown.

J.I. Segal immigrated to Montreal from Russia in 1911. He published his first poem, which was a love poem, in 1915 in the Keneder Adler, a Yiddish newspaper where many Yiddish authors were featured. From that first poem, grew a literary career spanning twelve volumes of poetry (two of which were published posthumously), numerous articles, essays, short stories and children’s literature. He work reflects the struggle which many immigrants face of trying to either belong or assimilate.

The writer became a part of the flourishing Yiddish literature circle which was so vibrant in Montreal during the 1940s and 50s, joining the likes of Rochel Korn and Melech Ravitch. Segal passed away suddenly March 7, 1954.The JPL-A holds a fonds consisting of J.I. Segal’s papers, including his handwritten manuscripts and a pair of his glasses. The glasses are currently on loan to the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History as a part of their exhibit Lives and Times of the Plateau.

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund.

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