Poet of the Workers and the Sweatshops

Poet Joseph Bovshover was born on September 30, 1873 in Lyubavich, Mogilev Gubernia and came to New York at 18 where he worked as a furrier. He began to write Yiddish poetry and became a popular declaimer in his shop, before becoming a writer for the radical Yiddish press.

Yoysef Bovshover left home his home in Lyubavich at an early age and headed for Riga, where he studied German and became especially drawn to the poetry of Heine. In America, he joined the Anarchist movement and began to write.

Initially inspired by the other “sweatshop poets” such as Morris Rosenfeld and David Edelstadt, Bovshover developed his own style, less modeled on German revolutionary poetry and more influenced by American poets like Walt Whitman. Bovshover’s work was popular among Jewish workers not only in New York, but throughout the world. After his death, he was included in the pantheon of great Yiddish proletarian writers, alongside Rosenfeld, Edelstadt, and Morris Winchevsky.

He also wrote in English under the name Basil Dahl. He later suffered from mental illness and was hospitalized until his death in Poughkeepsie on December 25, 1915.