Jaunā Gaita nr. 243, decembris 2005

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JG 243


For most of her creative life Vizma Belševica (1931-2005), the most widely recognized Latvian poet of the second half of the 20th century, lived in a society where freedom of expression was denied. But she produced a remarkable quantity and quality of lyric poetry. Her lyrical voice is also audible in her epic historical and philosophical poems and in her prose works. To commemorate her death, we are reprinting, among others, her most famous poem, The Notations of Henricus de Lettis in the Margins of the Livonian Chronicle (1969), in which she juxtaposes her poetic commentary with the pious 13th-century chronicle to tell of the pillaging, burning, rape and murder inflicted on a small nation by a large and powerful one in the name of an ideology, in this case, Christianity. Because Belševica's Notations were conspicuously timely in the Baltics under Moscow's rule, she became a „banned poet" for more than six years. Franks Gordons describes the stunned reaction to her poems - they were read as a cri de coeur of an angry, suffering, and disenfranchised people. An engaging lack of stuffiness characterizes the recollections of Belševica by the poet Uldis Bērziņš. Rolfs Ekmanis presents an excerpt from his long interview with Belševica that took place in 1989, almost three years before the Soviet empire disintegrated.


Benita Veisberga, a well-known Latvian literary personality, in her eloquent prose passages, combines nature observations, remembrances of things past, fantasy, and nostalgia. Imants Auziņš, the author of some 30 collections of poetry and several collections of essays, compares the effect of literature on Latvian society in the Soviet era and at present.


Marianna leviņa continues her memoir of poet Aleksandrs Pelēcis during the first years under the German occupation, in the early 1940s. 'A year after the Soviets returned, Pelēcis was deported to Siberia where he stayed from 1946 to 1969.


Astrida Straumane Ramrath reminisces about her experiences as a Gymnasium student in „Little Latvia" - a large refugee camp in the medieval town of Esslingen in postwar Germany.


Laimonis Mieriņš discusses Latvia's art scene in 2005, mainly in its capital Riga where he himself had a highly reviewed retrospective exhibition in June and July. Almost simultaneously Mieriņš' abstract paintings and not so abstract drawings of nudes were exhibited in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK. Voldemārs Avens, a poet and an artist as well, contributes an essay on New York's rebuilt Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Art historian Irēna Bužinska introduces the painter Ilze Nāgele. The „heart and soul" of the University of Washington Baltic Studies Program, Dr. Guntis Smidchens, writes about Capturing the Next Shift: The „Mapping" of Meaning Onto the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (2005), an M.A. thesis by Laura Lenss for which she received the coveted American institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal.


Juris Žagariņš in his regular Internet column presents a lively discussion on the question - how should Latvia proceed with the naturalization of its non-Latvian inhabitants? The Marginalia section includes annotations of recent Letonica (books, journals, music, visual arts, film), also, notes on the Booker literary prize winner Arundhati Roy, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed El Baradei, the Doris C. Freedman Award recipients Christo („Gates") and Jeannes-Claud, and the new acquisitions by MoMA (including 18 works by the Latvian artist Vija Celmiņa).


We have reviews of two Latvian literary works translated into English: The Skylark Will Come, poems by Jānis Baltvilks (tr. Rita Laima Bērziņš, reviewer Sarma Muižniece) and Andris Kolbergs' novel Don't Call Me, Don't Look for Me (tr. Anita Liepiņa, reviewer Juris Silenieks); also, Juris Rozītis' Displaced Literature: Images of Time and Space in Latvian Novels Depicting the First Years of Latvian Postwar Exile (Stockholm U. ) (Jānis Krēsliņš,Jr); the diaries of novelist Anšlavs Eglītis (Aina Siksna); Baltische Bibliographie 2000 (Jānis Krēsliņš); Gundega Cēbere's monograph on the painter Laris Strunke (Voldemārs Avens); a posthumous Festschrift dedicated to prof. Edgars Dunsdorfs (Juris Neimanis); Alfons Kalns' biography of composer Jānis Kalniņš (Juris Silenieks); Gina Ochsner's The New Yorker short story „Thicker Than Water" (Anita Liepiņa); and Journal of Baltic Studies (Gundars Ķeniņš-King).


The painting reproduced is by Ilze Nāgela, while art photography is represented by Gvido Kajons and Ulvis Alberts. The cover is by Jānis Ivsiņš.


Ilze Valdmane


Jaunā Gaita