Jaunā Gaita nr. 268. pavasaris 2012

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JG 268


  • Our frontispiece is a tribute to Václav Havel (1936-2011).

  • Uldis Bērziņš, in a series of six poetic motifs, touches on the etymology of the name of Kattegat Bay in the Baltic Sea, the mythology of Snorre Sturlason’s nordic sagas, a nautical dream of poet Egils Plaudis, the abject honesty of a homeless person on St. Martin Canal in Paris, the ill fate of contemporary politician Aivars Saliņš, and lastly, an image of poet Knuts Skujenieks as watery wave meeting beach. A poem by Leons Briedis envisions the city of Rīga as an architectural text laid out wide on an unfurled scroll of faded parchment deep and thick with inscribed runic, gothic, cyrillic and Hebrew script.

  • In his play A Prisoner in the Castle (of Rīga), Raimonds Staprāns relates the events of the last few days of the tenure of Latvia’s “benevolent dictator” Kārlis Ulmanis – from the occupation of the country by Soviet forces on June 17, 1940, until his forced departure to prison in Krasnovodsk, Turkmenistan. The play, in which Ulmanis comes across delusional and passive, was recently shown in Rīga, receiving mixed reviews.

  • Color reproductions of paintings are by Anna Heinrihsone and by Linda Treija from their respective recent exhibits in Rīga. Māris Brancis describes the work of our art editor Linda Treija who, in turn, introduces Anna Heinrihsone. Vilnis Auziņš presents a selection of photographs taken from an ambitious ethno-anthropological study portraying randomly chosen citizens caught going about their daily lives in four cities in Latvia.

  • Ojārs Greste comments on an exhibit of Latvian artists in Australia, and Māris Brancis comments on a recently published collection of Eleonora Šturma’s essays and critical art reviews recently published in a series titled Art in Exile, Writings and Images.


  • Long-time readers of Jaunā Gaita have been acquainted with the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, thanks to Andrejs Gunars Irbe’s (1924-2004) translations. Tranströmer’s literary legacy to Latvia is the subject of a conversation between Rolfs Ekmanis and another of the poet’s translators, Zigurds Elsbergs. Tranströmer enchants with the music of his poetry. He seeks and finds truth like a capricious swallow in flight, exclaims poet and novelist Adam Zagajewski in an essay translated from Polish by Ingmāra Balode.

  • The electric streetcar – clangorous and transformational, jostling and squeezing together Rīga’s bourgeoisie and underclass – is a recurring image in the poetry of Aleksandrs Čaks (1901-1950). Una Alksne discerns Čaks’ changing outlook on life in his evolving metaphoric use of that image.



  • Zigis Miezītis (1933-2011) was a man whose exhuberant devotion to folk dance moved innumerable people to cultivate their latvianness under his leadership. In her tribute to him, Maruta Voitkus-Lūkina writes that he led three folk-dance groups in Toronto and participated in organizing and training young and old for Latvian song and dance festivals all across North America and in Germany, Sweden and, of course, Latvia. His wide-open smile is captured in a photo-portrait by Roberts Freimūts.

  • Ieva Nikoleta Dāboliņa reminisces from a child’s perspective on the changes that came to daily life in Rīga as the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games approached.

  • Laimonis Purs lays out an introduction to a longer article (to be continued) on the career of journalist Kārlis Ozoliņš, one of the “national communists” in Soviet-occupied Latvia in the second half of the 1950’s, who helped to turn the cultural monthly Zvaigzne (The Star) into an officially tolerated bastion of free thinking.

  • Rolfs Ekmanis’ installment on Latvian-language broadcasts from the West to the USSR during the Cold War, brings us through the pivotal year of 1956 (Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization speech) to another pivotal year, 1975 (the publication of a letter from 17 Latvian communists denouncing Soviet totalitarianism).


  • In our selection of internet comment and discussion Kiberkambaris, Vents Zvaigzne presents a thoughtful argument for not letting our guard down against Latvia’s historically destructive next-door neighbor, Russia.

  • In a Few Words, Māris Brancis, Rolfs Ekmanis and Vita Gaiķe distill the important news and opinion, cultural and political, from in and around Latvia as well as from the rest of the world.


  • Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. Trejādas saules. Meteoroloģiskā saule. Gaišā saule (The Threefold Sun. The Meteorological Sun. The Luminous Sun). Volume 4 of sun-related Latvian folk songs (dainas) − reviewed by Lalita Muižniece

  • Dace Micāne-Zālīte. Vāveru gane (Squirrel Herder). Poems − Imants Auziņš

  • Pāvils Vasariņš. Varavīksnes spēks (Power of the Rainbow). Essays − Imants Auziņš

  • Lāpa-15, ed. Ansis Pommers. Memoirs of the graduates of the Fischbach, Germany, Displaced Persons Camp High School − Astrīda Straumane-Ramrath

  • Vilhelms fon Šternburgs (Wilhelm von Sternburg). It kā viss būtu pēdējoreiz: Ērihs Marija Remarks. (As If For the Last Time: Erich Maria Remarque) − Lāsma Ģibiete

  • Journal of Baltic Studies (September 2011) − Gundars Ķeniņš Kings.



Jaunā Gaita