Jaunā Gaita nr. 235, decembris 2003

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JG 235

Laris Saliņš opens this issue with an evocative poem about the "Hell's Kitchen" group of Latvian exile poets, specifically, about its central figures, Linards Tauns and Saliņš' father Gunars Saliņš. Our long-serving technical editor Juris Zommers contributes two fine poems: one about writing I want to say/ exactly what I want to say/ and nothing more and one about a cat that can't make up its mind. The family theme is continued with Jānis Elsbergs' translation of poems by John Elsbergs, a poet of Latvian descent living in the USA.

Astrida Stahnke, a biographer and translator of Aspazija's dramas into English, contributes a true story about a young man in Latvia who devoted his short life to rescuing the past by restoring ancient buildings slated for destruction by the Soviets.

Rolfs Ekmanis interviews a long-time contributor to JG, Biruta Sūrmane, who received the 2003 Ēriks Raisters Memorial Prize for her translations of Latvian literature into English. Ekmanis also contributes the first instalment of an article on the Voice of America's Latvian languages broadcasts during the Cold War era.

Eva Eglāja-Kristsone, doctoral student at the University of Latvia, reveals some of the political background of the infamous "Committee for Cultural Relations with Latvians Abroad" which existed as a front for the local Soviet KGB from about 1964 to 1990. Jānis Krēsliņš comments on some factual errors in Kristsone's article and encourages her to continue her research, especially, by interviewing those who participated in the Committee's activities on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

In memoriam is dedicated to Latvia's pre-eminent filmmaker Ansis Epners (1937-2003), by Anita Liepiņa, and to the painter Kārlis Kronbergs (1923-2003), by Voldemārs Avens.

Laimonis Mieriņš describes several recent art exhibits and art symposia in Riga, highlighting the retrospective exhibition of painter Boris Bērziņš (1930-2002) and his wife, sculptor Rasma Bruzīte (1919-2001). Mieriņš concludes: Artistic life in Riga is vibrant and many-faceted. National and local museums are funded by the Ministry of Culture, but private art galleries have to survive in a very competitive environment.

Gundega Cēbere reviews painter Laris Strunke's work in a recent exhibit in the Arsenal gallery in Riga. Strunke, who is the son of artist Niklāvs Strunke, lives in Sweden and has received national awards for his work from both the Swedish and Latvian governments.

Franks Gordons contributes an article on three world-famous architects - Gunars Birkerts, Daniel Liebeskind and Albert Speer, Jr. The family theme emerges again here - Birkerts comes from a long line of eminent Latvian cultural and literary figures, and his son Sven is a well-known literary critic in the USA, while Speer is the son of Hitler's close associate, Albert Speer, who drew up the plans for Germany's autobahns. The Polish-born Liebeskind designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

This issue's excerpt of discussions on the Internet is about democracy and the differences between proportional representation and regional representation, and why Latvian voters appear to be reluctant to participate in the democratic process.

Inta Ezergaile reviews Uldis Bērziņš' latest volume of poetry, Maijs debešos (May in the Skies). Juris Silenieks continues his surveys of Latvian literary journals with reviews of Luna issues 9 and 10. Silenieks notes that Luna emphatically includes several writers in translation in each of its issues and raises the point that cultural purity and isolation is one way of maintaining one's cultural identity, but the danger in doing so is cultural stagnation. Biruta Sūrmane reviews Marģers Grīns' Latviešu senā dievestība un tās atjaunojums - dievturība (The Ancient Beliefs of the Latvians and Their Rebirth in Modern Times). Anita Liepiņa discusses Ontons Zvīdris' posthumous volume of poetry, published by the Letgallian Cultural Centre in Rēzekne, Latgale. Zvīdris died in exile in Toronto.

Gundars Ķeniņš-King, dean emeritus of the School of Business at Pacific Lutheran University, who helped to found the Riga Technical University's Business School, has published four books on management. His latest work, Amerikas pieredze uzņēmumu vadībā (American Experience in Business Management), is reviewed by Madara Krūmiņa.

We are featuring color reproductions of the oil paintings by Laris Strunke and Kārlis Kronbergs. Art photography is by Sibila Savidža-Savage and the cover is by Haralds Norītis.

Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita