Celia Dropkin was born Tsilye Levine in Bobruisk on December 5, 1887. Her father, a lumber merchant, died when she was young and she was raised by her mother with the support of a local established family.
She had a traditional early education in Bobruisk and then attended the Russian gymnasium of Novozybkov in neighboring Chernigov Province. After graduating in 1906, she headed to Kiev where she continued her studies. There, she was mentored by the Hebrew writer Uri Nissan Gnessin and the two cultivated an intense friendship. Gnessin also passionately encouraged her writing — originally in Russian. Along with Gnessin, she later moved to Warsaw, where she worked briefly as a teacher.
She returned to her hometown in 1908, where she met her future husband, Shmaye Dropkin, a Bundist activist. The two married in 1909 and their first son was born the following year.
In 1912, the young family was forced to emigrate because of her husband’s illegal political activity. In New York, she continued writing and in 1917 she translated her first Russian poems into Yiddish and began publishing them and her new poetic work in American Yiddish newspapers and literary journals to great acclaim.
Dropkin died on August 17, 1956.