Bronxville High School senior Jean Klurfeld, a talented young poet, has earned the prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award for her poem “Zeyde,” which is a tribute to her late grandfather.
Selected by a panel of professional poets, Klurfeld is among 15 winners and 85 commendations to receive the recognition. The competition, which is sponsored by Foyles bookstore and The Poetry Society in the United Kingdom, is the largest youth poetry competition in the world in English. It draws more than 11,000 entries from more than 6,000 poets every year.
Klurfeld said her poem was inspired by a lesson on immigration, language and poetry and how first-, second- and third-generation immigrants deal with the language barrier between them and their parents or grandparents.
“My grandfather, Robert Klurfeld, came from Israel when he was six, speaking only Yiddish, and when I was his age, I couldn’t understand any of it,” Klurfeld said. “He didn’t have any place to put the remnants of his language, and so much of it was forgotten. When I grew up and investigated my past, I was deeply saddened that I wasn’t able to connect with my own past in the way that I wanted to. My grandfather had died at that point, so I couldn’t talk to him about it. So, I wrote about it, in a poem called ‘Zeyde.’ It’s a tribute to my grandfather that he very much deserved.”
Klurfeld credits her grandmother, Shellie Klurfeld, for greatly contributing to the knowledge she has of her relatives today. In addition, she’s grateful to her for encouraging her love of learning and being the main force behind her learning to read at a young age.
The student recently traveled to London to accept her award. As one of the winners of the competition, Klurfeld will also attend a writing retreat in February for young poets.