Jaunā Gaita nr. 158, jūlijs 1986

JG 158

As our exile from Latvia wears on and our alienation from our homeland increases, we often wonder if our efforts to keep our Latvian identity and culture have any meaning. This problem, particularly as it concerns our exile literature, is discussed by Valija Ruņģe in the first article of this issue. Besides of the universal problem of a drastic decline in the public's interest in books and literature, Ruņģe identifies 8 "syndromes" unique to the Latvian exile situation. As our material prosperity increases, so does our apathy towards intellectual pursuits, particularly those in a Latvian context. As our time in exile increases, so does the average age of our writers, reinforcing our tendency to lock ourselves in the past, to live without a vision of the future. Our lengthening exile is also the cause of an apparently decreasing commitment to our "National ideals" - our political leaders are continually reminding writers that their "duty" is to help strengthen this commitment by producing inspiring, nationalistic literary works. Our exile has caused a true generation gap among our writers and their public: Those who remember Latvia before 1945 and those who don't. The few writers among the younger generation also lack a reading public: the older generation cannot understand their diffidence toward exile Latvian society or their need to search for a Latvian identity in the Latvia of today, and among their peers there simply are very few readers of Latvian literature. Finally, there are increasing signs that not only are we alienated from Latvians in Latvia, but we are splitting up into regional groups in exile, each of which regards itself as a "truer" exile community than the others. Ruņģe concludes her rather pessimistic analysis with a call for us to realize that in exile we have the extraordinary cultural assignment of documenting our experience, as a community and as individual Latvians, of survival in spite of the long separation of the nation of which we are still a part.

Our poetry section contains work by six poets: the first is Olafs Stumbrs, who recently published a new collection of poems (Mitrā daba ar ūpjiem, Daugava, Stockholm, 1985). Pēteris Cedriņš has just published a broadsheet of his poetry (Ielejā, Apburtais kalns, Kalamazoo, 1986). Jānis Radāns makes his debut in this issue, writing ironically about the "inventory of middle-age", while Eduards Salna sends 5 poems in a mood of exceptional cynicism and hopelessness: "empty hopes, collected in minds and hearts, / with time create empty / minds and hearts". We present 4 poems by Velga Krile from her recently-published volume Don't Cheat Me (Nepiekrāp mani, Liesma, Rīga, 1985). Jānis Krēsliņš has contributed his translation of a Robert Graves' poem. Our literary section concludes with a second part of Dzintars Sodums' memoir, a chronicle of the years of Latvia's independence from a child's viewpoint.

Juris Mazutis contributes 2 articles to this issue. The first is his interview with Juris Ruņģis, the manager of the Australian-based amateur Latvian folk ensemble "Saules josta", who are preparing for their fourth world tour in 12 years next summer. This is an amazing achievement, considering that the 50 performers not only give up their free time and vacations, but also make their own costumes, as authentically as possible, up to 4 per show, and pay their own travel costs, about $2400 per person, for the "privilege" of joining the ensemble on its tours of Latvian communities in the Americas and Europe. Mazutis' other article is in his "Travels - a diary" series, this time a delightful description of his "good years" - his 10th, 16th, and 21st.

Ieva Celmiņa and Vera Streita contribute brief memoirs of the great Latvian linguist Jānis Endzelīns, while Imants Sakss offers a detailed and fascinating description of the Sixth Song Festival in Latvia, which took place in Rīga, in June, 1926. Laimonis Mieriņš reports on the 9th International Biennale of Graphic Art, which took place this spring in Bradford, England, while Lidija Dombrovska offers her thoughts on the relation between nature, experience, and the creative process in the visual arts.

The contents of this issue also include Andrievs Ezergailis' critique of the Latvian News Digest, Ēriks Pārups' continued memoirs on the Latvian resistance in the Second World War, Anita Liepiņa's compilation of critical views of Māra Zālīte's plays Māra's Room is Full (Pilna Māras istabiņa) and Justice (Tiesa), and finally, our book section with reviews of poetry, plays, novels, and a sociological treatise (Archīvs #24). The cover of this issue is by Laimonis Mieriņš, and the frontispiece is by Silvija Sinka.


Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita