Jaunā Gaita nr. 110, 1976

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JG 110

Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga's address which she presented at the recent Latvian Song Festival in Toronto, Canada, is here published in its entirety. Vīķe-Freiberga for the last decade has been one of the most energetic inquirers into Latvian folk tradition and in this address speaks movingly about the power of the song in Latvian culture. In the literary section this issue of JG presents the poetry of five women - Velta Toma, Herta Krauja, Baiba Rirdāne, Laine Alksne, and Lalita Muižniece, four men - Valentīns Pelēcis, Ivars Lindbergs, Juris Kroribergs and Edgars Krūmiņš, and prose by Irēne Blūmfelde. Blūmfelde's story „The Day Off" tells about the life of a sophisticated and introspective émigré lady who works as a servant for a rich American woman in one of the metropolises of this continent. On her day off she finds that her employment has become a burden to her, for regardless of what she does on her free day, she still is entrapped inside the American lady's apartment and the trivialities of her life. Her torture ceases only with the resolve to leave the lady's employment. The four women poets are preoccupied with mythic themes. Dense forces of telluric women emanate from their verses.

Velta Toma, the temperamental and mercurial baroness of Latvian letters, is represented by two poems. In the first, the more complex of the two, Toma is depicting a primordial, presuffragette female figure, clairvoyant, defiant, and victorious. The second is a poetic rendering of a fairytale theme of a father who has built a house he intends to bequeath to one of his three sons - he who will devise the most complete occupancy of the house. The first brings in a horse, the second straw, but the winner is the third who lights a candle and fills the home with light. „I partake of the wine of the summer from a chalice yet to be made," versifies Herta Krauja. The narrator of Krauja's poem performs numerous miraculous and fructifying deeds. „I am a summer drenched in seething juices", sings Krauja. Lalita Muižniece, Baiba Rirdāne, and Laine Alksne also lavish their feminine forces on the world and nature, though in a different way. Lindbergs is represented by four poems and Pelēcis and Krūmiņš both by one each. Krūmiņš, a middle aged Toronto artist, makes his literary debut with this poem. Kronbergs from Stockholm, who half a decade ago surged upon the literary scene, earned his distinction with onomatopoetic verse unlike anything in Latvian tradition. In the four poems presented here, he has turned to descriptions of nature, very much in the tradition of Skalbe, Bārda, and Blaumanis.

Among the literary contributions in this issue are to be included Modris Zeberiņš' essay about our editor's A. Ezergailis recent book The 1917 Revolution in Latvia and Juris Mazutis' regular column „Travels/Diaries". Mazutis' column is filled with poetry of the 10th Century Arabic poet al-Ma'arri, which he has translated. Al Ma'rri's poetry in its tone of resignation and Weltschmerz is reminiscent of Omar Khayam's work. In the review of 1917 Revolution in Latvia, Zeberiņš in his inimitable style explores the nature of history, its relationship to literature and life, as well as life's relationship to history and literature.

Kārlis Ābele presents his informative annual summary of Latvian cultural events in emigration during 1975. He notes that last year the émigré communities in Europe, America, and Australia had organized at least one large cultural event: song festivals in Seattle, Oregon, and Leicester, England, and a Festival of Culture in Brisbane, Australia.

Kārlis Dzelzītis in his essay „Content, Form, Style" delivers a scorching critique of modernism in art and letters. He argues that art must have content, form, and style to be worthy of that name. Since modernism has abandoned these strictures, he feels that art fashioned in its image falls short of the purpose that art had performed for humanity throughout history. The lacerations that he inflicts on the famous internationally known modernists are also administered to the Latvian émigré modern writers most of whom have appeared in JG. About the „Hell's Kitchen" poets he writes ; „What a fall it is from the lyric Rainis, Skalbe, or Virza to the „Hell's Kitchen" school or the political poetization of the Soviet Latvian verse makers." Dr. Kārlis Dzelzītis is acting also in maintaining the heritage of the great Latvian poets Rainis and Aspazija.

Visvaldis Bokalders from Sweden is represented by a review-essay on Jāzeps Grosvalds' (a renowned Latvian painter) journal of his travels through Persia in 1918. The journal, written in French, is entitled Tableux Persans, and it exists in a bound typescript volume with the author's illustrations.

In this issue are concluded J. Krēsliņš' interview with Arturs Baumanis, the author of the much acclaimed recently published novel about the Herrnhutian Brethren in 18th Century Latvia, and Uldis Ģērmanis' study of the V Congress of the Latvian strelki soviet of Deputies, which met at a crucial time in the 1917 Revolution, just before the convening of the Constituent Assembly.

Edīte Zuzena continues her study of Aleksandrs Čaks' ballads. This time the subject of her attention is Čaks' ballad „Make music, musicmaker." Among the many intricacies that Zuzena traces out in the poem, the most interesting one is the relationship between the musicmaker and the poet which she finds to be at once symbiotic and hostile.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters. The frontispiece is by Raimonds Slaidiņš.


Andrievs Ezergailis

Jaunā Gaita