Jaunā Gaita nr. 238, septembris 2004

< JG 237   JG 239 >

JG 238

The poetry section includes two works by Andrejs Irbe (1924-2004), a poet, prose writer, critic and JG editor from 1956 to 1980. He lived in exile in Sweden after World War II. Juris Kronbergs, a poet and translator of contemporary Latvian writing into Swedish (also, Latvian Cultural Attaché in Stockholm) reminisces about Irbe, noting that he was probably the first to write truly professional reviews about Latvian writers under the Soviets. Sarma Muižniece Liepiņa organizes her eight well-made poems around the Register's Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa.

Laima Kalniņa's short-story explores the power of imagination, while Aina Siksna has contributed a sketch about the mixture of nationalities in the Courland Spit and the city of Kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg).

At a recent literary happening in Stockholm, Juris Kronbergs read his latest works and noted his literary influences, and Daiga Celmiņa (University of Latvia) analysed Kronbergs' nine poetry collections, published between 1970 and 2002. Dr. Izabella Cielēna, a specialist in French letters, offers enlightening comment on this literary event. Ruta Veidemane, a master of analyzing poetic narrative and structure, dissects a poem written in 1969 by Māris Čaklais (1940-2003) called "The Overgrowing Lake" (Aizaugošais ezers). In the critic's view, the poem's true meaning is the ever-increasing chokehold of a totalitarian regime on the lives of its citizens, although on the surface it appears to be a lyrical, though slightly menacing, personification of a lake as it watches those who live in and around it.

The Canadian literary journal Descant devoted its Spring 2004 issue to Latvian writing, publishing some 25 contemporary Latvian writers. Three of our contributors examined this edition - Jānis Krēsliņš concludes that the quality of the contents varies from the mediocre to the ridiculous, singling out Karl Jirgens: "The article by Jirgens is the worst and most pretentious introduction to the history of Latvia and Latvians and to contemporary Latvian literature..." The literary scholar Juris Silenieks, however, applauds the editors for choosing the rich literature of a small country on the Baltic Sea as the theme of Descant 124. Anita Liepiņa concludes that, unfortunately, it is easier to be recognized as a country through sports than through belles-lettres.

Rasma Birzgale, a specialist in exile theatre, recollects her personal contacts with the renowned Latvian modernist playwright Mārtiņš Zīverts (1903-1990).

Franks Gordons describes three battles where Latvian military units were major participants, although none was in the defence of Latvia itself. The first was the uprising of the SR's (Social Revolutionaries) against the Bolshevik government in Moscow in July 1918, which was suppressed by the Latvian Riflemen under Colonel Jukums Vācietis („liquidated" by Stalin in the 1930's). The second was the counterattack against the Germans on the outskirts of Moscow in December 1941, where the Latvian Division of the Red Army was given the task of driving the German forces westward out of the town of Borovsk. The third was the last defence of Berlin against the Red Army in April 1945, where a small unit of the Latvian Legion fought desperately to stay alive and out of the hands of the Russians.

Another fascinating account of the end of WW II is provided by Alfreds Tauriņš in the segment of his diary from February to May 1945. Rolfs Ekmanis continues his series on Latvian language radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union during the Cold War period. Radio Vatican is treated in this issue.

Art critics Nikolajs Bulmanis and Laimonis Mieriņš survey recent art exhibitions in Rīga.

Our book section has reviews of the poet Rūta Skujiņa's (1907-1944) recently published letters, Māris Čaklais' biography of Latvia's President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Indra Gubiņa's latest novel, Rūta Rudzīte's story for the young, the Journal of Baltic Studies spring and summer 2004 issues, Latvian Literature 4, and Lituanus (2003, 4), dedicated to the great Lithuanian painter and composer Mikolajus K. Čiurlionis (1875-1911).

We are featuring art photographs by Ina Stūre and Ivonne Vaar and a color reproduction of a recent painting by Haralds Norītis. The front cover is also by Norītis.

Ilze Valdmanis

Jaunā Gaita