Naomi Replansky was born in the Bronx in 1918. The daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, she began writing poems at a young age. By her mid-teens, she was publishing poems in literary journals and anthologies. Replansky studied history at Hunter College but did not finish her degree, opting instead to go to work. During the 1940s and 1950s, she worked in a factory in New York City and as a translator in Los Angeles. In the latter decade, she earned a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 1952, Replansky published her first book, Ring Song (Scribner), which was nominated for a National Book Award. She is also the author of Collected Poems (Black Sparrow Books/David R. Godine, 2012), which won the 2013 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934–1994 (Another Chicago Press, 1994).
Replansky is known for her lifelong dedication to social causes. Of her work, Philip Levine writes,
Replansky is an intensely political poet, appalled by the cruelty, greed, and corruption of the masters of nations and corporations, appalled and enraged. I was drawn first to her lyricism, but I soon saw the rightness of her vision…
B. H. Fairchild writes, “Replansky has become the master of a Blakean music radically unfashionable in its devotion to song-like meters and the reality and politics of working-class experience.”
With her partner, the writer and scholar Eva Kollisch, she received the 2015 Clara Lemlich Award honoring women who have spent their lives working for the larger good.
Replansky taught poetry at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and at the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan. She translated works by Bertolt Brecht and Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal from German, as well as the work of the poet and playwright Itzik Manger from Yiddish.
Naomi Replansky died on January 7, 2023, at her home in Manhattan, New York. She was one hundred and four.