Jaunā Gaita nr. 168, augusts 1988
Linards Tauns, Gunars Saliņš, and Jānis and Anna Annuss in Hell's Kitchen, New York, in the fifties
This issue has a small poetry section, with only 2 examples from the oeuvre of Valdis Krāslavietis, although Rita Laima Krieviņa's lyrical sketch "In the Golden Chair"; a meditation on the richness of the Latvian pastoral heritage could almost be regarded as poetry. Daina Šķēle contributes a story about the connections between our ancestors and ourselves, while Pēteris Cedriņš has written a stark picture of life in the drug culture.
Much of the content of this issue, however, is about poetry. Aina Zemdega has contributed an essay on the poets of "Hell's Kitchen" in the 1950's and 1960's in New York, centering on their leader, Linards Tauns. Rather than give a critical analysis of the poetry, Zemdega writes about the atmosphere of Hell's Kitchen during those years, and the themes so richly explored by these poets. The loss of their homeland, their "split lives", were continual undercurrents in their work. This undercurrent was also noticed by the poet Ojārs Vācietis in Latvia, who had somehow obtained a copy of Tauns' book Mūžīgais mākonis (The Eternal Cloud) and sent a review of it to Jaunā Gaita around 1960 (see pg. 13).
Veronika Strēlerte wrote a fine essay on the poet Elze Stērste for JG 165. Vera Streita has supplemented it for this issue with 4 of Stērste's poems that were found among her papers after her death. They were written in the early 1950's, during her forced exile in Siberia, and vividly describe the hardship of those years.
Laimonis Mieriņš contributes his annual "Notes on the Arts in Latvia" for 1987 to this issue. The prescriptions of "socialist realism" have, it appears, been relaxed to the point that almost any form of personal artistic expression is acceptable, but bureaucratic involvement in decisions such as the selection of work for exhibitions abroad is still stifling. A disturbing problem has arisen at the annual "Arts Days", held each spring in cities and towns in Latvia. Up until 1987, these were joyful celebrations, virtual "love-ins" between the artists and the community. But in Rīga in 1987, vandals, apparently ignored by the authorities, destroyed some of the art and disheartened many of the artists and organizers of the festival.
Playwright and actor Uldis Siliņš has interviewed the distinguished actress Lija Veikina of the Sydney Latvian Theatre for this issue, while Līga Korsts Streipa describes the newest and grandest Latvian cultural centre in the West - the 16'th century manor "La Ville au Maire" near Tours, France, acquired in 1987. Imants Zilberts drew the cartoon on pg. 26 of Austris Grasis, the driving force behind the centre. Composer and conductor Jānis Cīrulis is the subject of Imants Sakss' column in this issue. Sakss also contributes an account of an amusing incident in the offices of the Riga newspaper "Tēvija" during the winter of 1944. Juris Mazutis, who is also the editor of the Latvian personal computer users' newsletter "Latdati", defends the use of computers as writing tools in this issue. Nikolajs Bulmanis covers several recent events in the Latvian art world in his column.
"...a free Latvia within a free Russia"- Z. Meierovics addressed an assembly of the subject nations of the Russian Empire in August 1917, calling on them to unite in a federation to defend their national sovereignty. Andrievs Ezergailis discusses this topic in this issue, pointing out that the idea of a completely independent Latvian republic gained acceptance only after the Communist takeover of Russia in 1917. Ezergailis suggests that perhaps the time is ripe for a reconsideration of federalism as an alternate approach to Latvian sovereignty.
We have reviews of recent books by two of the authors of this issue - Aina Zemdega and Daina Šķēle. Jānis Mauliņš, a writer living in Latvia, contributes reviews of 2 novels published outside Latvia: Margita Gūtmane's The Same Day and Eduards Freimanis' The Palace of Friendship. Both books deal specifically with life in emigration, and Mauliņš' reviews provide a fascinating perspective on them "from home". Other novels reviewed in this issue are by Jānis Klīdzējs, Henrijs Moors and Lūcija Bērziņa. Tadeušs Puisāns reviews Edgars Dunsdorfs' study of 18'th century survey maps of Vidzeme, while Inārs Brēdrichs discusses the anthology The Baltic Peoples in Australia.
The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters, and the frontispiece is by Edvīns Strautmanis.