Jaunā Gaita nr. 150, oktobris 1984

JG 150

In most ways, this issue is not much different from other issues of Jaunā Gaita  it contains the familiar mix of literature, art, criticism, reviews, and articles dealing with Latvian themes and personalities. But, this being the one hundred fiftieth issue, one can reflect on the fact that, for the almost thirty years of its existence (since it was founded in 1955 by the American Latvian Youth Association), Jaunā Gaita has been true to its masthead: a journal devoted to culture and the free expression of ideas, and if it has ever retreated from these ideals, it has never done so to avoid the wrath of the political and "moral" establishment of the Latvian exile community. Three factors have made this remarkable achievement possible: first, JG's team of unpaid editors and technical staff, who work entirely voluntarily, and some of whom have made virtually a fulltime job of the task of putting JG together, second, the continuing interest of our poets, writers, artists, and intellectuals in contributing their work to JG, and thus supporting, in the best way possible, its continued existence, and finally, our readers, whose steady support, both moral and financial, has allowed JG to survive for one hundred and fifty issues.

Our readers' support is usually quiet and unpublicized; however, a group of 130 JG subscribers in Australia have taken the unusual step of forming their own association, AJA ("The Australian Jaungaitnieks' Association"), and officially joining the Latvian Association of Australia and New Zealand. They give two reasons for forming the Association: to support Jaunā Gaita "as one of the most important Latvian forums for the free discussion of social, political and cultural ideas" and to provide a democratic alternative that can actively contribute to the Latvian exile community.

Poetry occupies a major place in this issue. Our contributing poets span several generations, including Veronika Strēlerte, whose poetry was first published in 1937 in Latvia, and sixteenyearold Lauma Cenne, from Ottawa, Canada, who is publishing in this issue for the first time. We have poetry by Gunars Saliņš (USA), Astrīde Ivaska (USA), Roberts Mūks (USA), Inārs Brēdrichs (Australia), Valentīns Pelēcis (USA), as well as Māris Čaklais' translations of the Armenian poet Gevorg Emin, and Jānis Krēsliņš' translations of poems by Bertolt Brecht, Zbigniew Herbert and Ezra Pound. Velta Toma has chosen five poems of Ojārs Vācietis from 19781983, while Mārtiņš Lasmanis has contributed a critical essay on Vācietis' life and work, on the occasion of his death last year at age fifty. Lasmanis stresses Vācietis' great contribution as the first Latvian poet who successfully broke out of the prescribed social realist mould after the Second World War, who continually pushed the barriers against free expression further, and who always urged his fellow poets to experiment and search for new modes of expression, often defending those who "strayed" too far at the risk of his own official stature.

The young Latvian director Juris Rozītis is featured in this issue in an interview by Mārtiņš Lasmanis and an essay by Māra Kalniete. Rozītis grew up in Australia, but has lived in Sweden since 1977. His unconventional approach to Latvian classics such as Ādamsons' Mālu Ansis (Clay Hans) and Blaumanis' Raudupiete (The Widow Raudups) has excited Latvian audiences on three continents, both for the unusually accomplished performances of his young amateur actors and for Rozītis' ability to project the original atmosphere and essence of the plays in spite of what seems to be a highly modern, stylized interpretation. Rozītis has also appeared in Jaunā Gaita as the author of an extensive analysis of the changing role of culture in the Latvian exile community (JG 147148).

Nikolajs Bulmanis writes about another recent interpretation of Blaumanis  this time at the centennial of the Pori Civic Theatre of Pori, Finland, this past September. Blaumanis' Indrāni, a tragedy about generational conflict, was presented by Finnish actors directed by Kārlis Auškāps and designed by Ilmārs Blumbergs, both from Rīga. Bulmanis also writes about the multimedia show "Nature, Environment, Man", presented in St. Peter's Church in Rīga last spring as the main exhibition of the annual Arts Week there. Photographs from the show can be seen on page 46 of this issue. The show was, unfortunately, too provocative for some of its viewers, who reported its "excesses" to the authorities and had it cancelled, as well as severely criticized in subsequent issues of the arts newspaper "Literātūra un Māksla".

Kārlis Ābele contributes his annual synopsis of the cultural activities of Latvians in exile for the year 1983, while Imants Sakss contributes a personal look at composer Jānis Kalniņš on the occasion of Kalniņš' eightieth birthday. Valdis Liepiņš concludes his essay comparing the Armenian and Latvian strategies for national survival, while Aldis Putniņš presents the results of a survey conducted among the participants of the Sixth World Latvian Youth Congress in Australia last year, on the question of cultural relations with Soviet Latvia. The organizers of the Congress, Rolands Lappuķe and Edgars Krūmiņš, present their opinions of the highlights of the Congress in a short interview, including recommendations for the next congress, which is scheduled for 1986 in Ottawa, Canada.

Andrievs Ezergailis reviews, in his idiosyncratic way, Prof. Edgars Andersons' latest book, The Latvian Armed Forces and their Origins, emphasizing the tragedy of the book's subject: "The book is generously illustrated, Latvian generals proudly displaying their ornate, Frenchstyle uniforms..., but we can see through and past these uniforms (Andersons forces us to do this) their skeletons and pierced skulls as martyrs of the 1941 Communist terror or as they lay dead in the ditches of the world." While Andersons examines his tragic theme with his remarkable historian's mind, Dzintar's Sodums uses his literary talents to look at a similar theme, the fate of Latvia and its people in the Second World War, in his story "The Hedgehog in the Well", concluded in this issue.

The frontispiece is by Visvaldis Reinholds (Canada), while the cover design is by Ilmārs Rumpēters.


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Jaunā Gaita