Photo Credit: The New York Times

Naomi Replansky


Birth City, State, Country

Bronx, New York, USA


Naomi Replansky was born and raised in the Bronx in a working-class family. A self-taught poet, her work reflected subjects such as labor, Jewish history, oral and folk traditions, and oppression. Her first collection, Ring Song, was published in 1952, and while Replansky was in her thirties at the time of publishing, many of the poems were written while she was still a teenager. Ring Song was a finalist for a National Book Award, and brought in critical praise from many corners of the poetry world. Over the next few decades, Replansky would slowly release two more full length collections—The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems 1934-1994 (1994), and Collected Poems (2012), as well as the chapbook Twenty One Poems Old and New (1988). 

Aside from her work in poetry, Naomi Replansky also was a translator of the German poet Bertolt Brecht in the 1950s. This friendship furthered her desire to fight for social justice causes, identifying with the communist movement in her youth, and writing poems about labor, poverty, racism, and the Holocaust. In an interview with Bridges, Replansky touched on why she writes about such provocative, visceral subjects, stating; “Poetry for me is a way of mastering the world. Strong emotions come to me in the shape of poetry.” Poetry wasn’t her only profession, as Replansky worked in various other contexts like offices, assembly lines, ocean-liners, and even as a computer programmer. 

Naomi Replansky’s work is considered by many critics some of the most influential protest and labor poetry of this generation. Though Replansky’s work didn’t get as much recognition as it deserved early in her career, she did receive some recognition later. In 2013, she received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. American Jewish poet Phillip Levine described Replansky as “an intensely political poet, appalled by the cruelty, greed, and corruption of the masters of nations and corporations, appalled and enraged.” In another review of her work, George Oppen placed Replansky “among the most brilliant American poets.”

While Replansky’s work often showcased the painful parts of life, she also wrote poems filled with optimism and joy. This can be seen in works like “The Oasis,” where she writes about the joy of finding love late in life, a joy that Naomi Replansky experienced herself in meeting writer and scholar Eva Kollisch in the 1980s. The two met at a reading became partners, marrying in 2009. In 2015, Replansky and Kollisch received the Clara Lemlich Award honoring women who have spent their lives working for the larger good. Naomi Replansky moved between Los Angeles and San Francisco for many years before settling down in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she spent the remainder of her life.

Published Works

Collected Poems (Black Sparrow Books, 2012)
The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems 1934-1994 (Another Chicago Press, 1994)
Twenty One Poems Old and New (chapbook; Gingko Press, 1988)
Ring Song (Scribner, 1952)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading


University of California: Los Angeles, B.A. in Geography
Hunter College

Languages of Publication(s) and Poets Translated

German-Bertolt Brecht, Austrian-Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Yiddish-Itzik Manger

Subject Matter


Profile Created By

Shelby Sizemore, Yetzirah Intern