Jaunā Gaita nr. 200, marts 1995

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JG 200

Our anniversary issue's poetry section features a mini-anthology of the work of 21 poets living outside Latvia, many of whom once formed the new wave in Latvian poetry which found its home in Jaunā Gaita: G. Saliņš, I. Lindbergs, A. Ivaska (former JG poetry editor), A. Kraujiete (the present poetry editor), B. Bičole, R. Gāle, J. Krēsliņš, A. Ruņģis, V. Avens (all from the USA). The roster of JG authors grew over the years: A. Eglītis (Sweden), M. Gūtmane (Germany), L. Gulbe, I. Gubiņa, J. Zommers, I. Vīksna, A. Zemdega (all from Canada), Austris Ruņģis, R. Mūks, M. Meirāne, V. Pelēcis, N. Kalniņš (all from the USA) have all previously appeared in the pages of Jaunā Gaita, some as regular contributors. A dedication by Velta Toma expressing our hopes for Latvia's future appears on page 1.

Three authors are featured in our prose section. Juris Rozītis' '"Nights at the Congress" captures in a splendidly idiomatic fashion both the atmosphere and issues of exile Latvian youth congresses as they used to be during the 1970s and 1980s. His protagonist roams from room to room hearing snatches of conversation in a welter of vivid vignettes. Rozītis' second piece "Whiskey in Bed" records the chaotic reactions of unrequited young love, desperate but essentially hopeful for the future. In Indra Gubiņa's "Bed", a widow is transfixed by the sight of her old double bed waiting at the curb to be hauled away. Her past history flashes through her mind as she returns to her house to retrieve a cover for the bed. Gunars Bekmans' lively story "On the Way to Stučka" veers to melodramatic parody featuring castle ruins, a fumbled suicide and the last minute rescues of two other would-be suicides. Naturally, there is a happy off-beat ending.

We have two articles from the 1994 Conference of Women Academics at the Riga Academy of Science. Representing the West, Aija JanelsinaPriedite (Sweden) attempts to assume the role of a woman living in the Soviet era in an attempt to explain the current timidity, kowtowing to men, and lack of self respect shown by women in Latvia. Rita Rungule (Latvia) discusses the phenomenon of Soviet ideology, internationalism, military discipline and the paternal role of the state. Her expectation from women's studies and feminism is that women will be treated as individuals rather than a mass with a single identity.

The international image of Latvia has become a concern for Latvians. Andrievs Ezergailis in his "Knots" column questions the ability of Latvia's politicians to solve this problem any better than the émigré Latvian politicians of yore.

In his column "Travels - a Diary", Juris Mazutis has often written about the road to freedom, a democratic sovereign Latvia, and changes of many forms. In this issue he looks at the choices for Latvians living abroad in their relationship with an independent Latvia.

The Soros Foundation of Latvia was established on June 25, 1992 with the purpose of fostering the development of an open society in Latvia. Art editor N. Bulmanis offers some critical thoughts on the second annual Soros Foundation exhibition of contemporary art in Riga in 1994. Based on the premise that the fundamental purpose of the democratic state of Latvia and the Soros Foundation are identical he argues that input should be sought on the broadest possible basis, namely from all who are concerned with strengthening the Latvian democratic tradition. Specifically, he criticizes the narrow scope and aggressively avant-garde approach of the show and suggests broadening the basis of future exhibitions by involving curators who have a greater understanding and appreciation of contemporary art in its more traditional forms.

Juris Silenieks in his essay on the history of the Latvian theatre in Wuerzburg evokes the context of the postwar Displaced Person (DP) camp in this Bavarian city, which was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing. Latvian refugees built, amidst ruins, respectable theatre facilities, trained young actors who had little or no formal education in the theatre arts and staged excellent theatrical productions.

In his conversation with JG contributing editor Mārtinš Lasmanis, Aleksandrs Viļumanis, artistic director of the Latvian State Opera, discusses the opening production, Jānis Mediņš' Uguns un Nakts (Fire and Night) in the restored Opera House. He expresses the hope that Latvian opera stars abroad would return, making possible the re-establishment of a stable company.

Andrejs Holcmanis, chief architect of heritage preservation for Riga, outlines the problems of reclaiming the character of a city dating back to 1201. Full-time residents are becoming fewer. Tourists crowd the cobblestone streets during the day, but at night the streets are deserted.

On Dec. 10, 1994 the "little theatre of San Francisco" began its 29'th season with Raimonds Staprāns' play "The Last Performance" (published in JG 198). Ilga Hincenberga reviews their performance of the play in Latvia, while Ojārs Krātiņš, after a long absence from our pages, contributes a witty review recording his impressions of the premiere in San Francisco.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters and the frontispiece is by Raimonds Staprāns. Imants Zilberts has again contributed several delightful visual comments on contemporary life in Latvia.

J.Z., L.Z.

Jaunā Gaita