Jaunā Gaita Nr. 254. septembris 2008
LETTERS AND CULTURE.
A blossoming linden tree, a dessicated thicket of briar rose, a white sun, a flock of bluebirds and a ragged cloud are the lingering images conjured up by five somber and contemplative poems by Indra Gubiņa, a long-time contributor.
Anita Dzirne-Irlen, who used to contribute poetry regularly some twenty years ago, now returns with three powerful pieces.
In two short, whimsical prose compositions from Laima Kalniņa, sleep is both the main character and the narrator.
Exerpts from addresses delivered at the 100th jubilee of writer Rūta Skujiņa (1907
Eva Eglāja-Kristsone presents a study of Latvian literature as Cold War ideological weapon. She proves quite convincingly that cultural exchange accross the Iron Curtain served more to undermine the Soviet state than any repudiation of such opportunities by the free side might have done.
“I Am a Berliner” is the title of a memoir by one L. Vilks (nom de plume), in which a young Latvian standing guard on the east side of the Berlin Wall before its fall tells of a fleeting, wordless encounter with a fellow young Latvian brandishing his fist from a viewing platform on the other side.
Books reviewed include Ieva Čaklā’s memoir of life with her husband, poet and editor Māris Čaklais, novels by Ilze Indrāne, Nora Ikstena, Ainārs Zelčs, Māra Rūmniece’s translation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano, Imants Ronis’ history of Latvian Press associations in exile, Inguna Daukste-Silasproģe’s description of life in the Latvian literary community in exile, a compendium of statistics about country life in Latvia from the Latvian Academy of Science, and, as always, the latest issue of the Journal of Baltic Studies
The current installment of Rolfs Ekmanis’ magnum opus on international Latvian-language radio broadcasting during the Cold War describes how internecine warfare within Latvian exile organizations resulted in funding problems for the Free Latvian Voice (BLB).
The diary of Dr. Alfreds Tauriņš decribes life in the Hochfeld refugee camp in Augsburg, Germany, from mid-November 1945 to mid-February 1946, when the author is offered a position as Extaordinary Professor of Chemistry at the UNRRA (United Nations Refugee Relief Agency) University in Munich.
Laimonis Mieriņš shares his impressions on visiting a new underground gallery next to the Rīga Dom Cathedral, featuring an exhibit of the works of Džemma Skulme.
Daumants Pēteris Šnore asks “Will Latvia move to the vanguard of the art world?” and argues that Latvia may, indeed, be in a position to initiate a “postcontemporary era” in art. The first step would be to build a museum for displaying an eclectic collection of contemporary and modernist art works together with works which are the product of each individual artist’s free and natural instinct and not the result of conformity to any fashion. A work by Šnore (Peter Schnore) himself is featured among the color reproductions in this issue, and JG art editor Voldemārs Avens gives an overview of his life as an artist.
Also featured are color reproductions of a work by Daina Dagnija and two by Laris Strunke.
Franks Gordons writes to congratulate Latvia for committing itself, at last, to the construction of its new National Library or “Citadel of Light”, designed as a gift to Latvia by internationally acclaimed architect Gunārs Birkerts. He specifically credits Latvia’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, Helēna Demakova, with clinching this commitment and expresses the hope that, whatever shape any future government of Latvia may take, she continue to be a part of it.
Rita Laima Bērziņa writes to bemoan the wanton destruction of archeological sites in Iraq as well as the lack of civility in expressions of differences of opinion on that war within the Latvian diaspora in the US.
Here is the usual a wide-ranging compendium of culture news briefs from all over the world. The main story is Rolfs Ekmanis’ report on the combined Twentyfourth Song and Fourteenth Dance Festival, July 6–12, 2008 in Rīga. There were 394 choirs and vocal ensembles performing and 544 dance groups, numerous kokle groups, orchestras and folk ensembles with a total of 38,500 participants. The opening procession lasted six hours and at the culmination of the festivities 13,317 tightly choreographed dancers performed at the Daugava Stadium and 12,000 singers sang from the stage at Mežaparks, bringing tears of emotion to many eyes in the vast audience. Three wonderful photos from Indra Ekmanis’ camera and her cover art for this issue make it clear that this event was a grand affirmation of the unique beauty of the Latvian nation.