Jaunā Gaita nr. 159, septembris 1986

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JG 159

In this issue the emphasis is on events in the Latvian exile community during 1985 and 1986. We begin with Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga's essay "Freedom and the Latvian philosophy of life", which she delivered at the service of the dievturi during the Latvian Song Festival in Canada, on July 6, 1986, (to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Saule). She describes the emotional meaning of the song festivals for Latvians, both those in exile and those in Latvia: "Latvians possess the ability, rarely found in this age, to draw spiritual strength from their community, from their gathering together, as so strikingly happens during the song festivals... In our joy and enthusiasm together we each become a cell in an almost palpable superorganism, our nation." The main theme of Freiberga's essay is the great value of our folklore, particularly the dainas, not only as a unique and priceless cultural artifact, but as a guide and philosophy for Latvians struggling to keep their identity in a technological world: "The Latvian nation, with its unique historical experience, has preserved and developed precisely those universal human values that are missing from modern society and that the Western world in recent decades, with great difficulty, has attempted to invent anew."

Reviews of the 1986 song festival in Canada, which took place in Toronto, are contributed by Imants Sakss, Jānis Beloglāzovs, Pēteris Aldiņš, and Tālivaldis Ķiķauka. Their opinions generally are that the festival was very well-organized and musically at a high level, although the venues for some of the concerts (hotel ballrooms and hockey arenas), and the sound system installed at great expense in the hockey arena, were deplorable. The literary events of the festival, the "official" play and the 2 writers' showcases, have also been deplored by reviewers.

Juris Mazutis in his column laments the lack of quality in culture: "I am tormented by the suspicion that quality is a concept that has come to nothing in our cultural life... We are passive consumers, who have turned off all our critical faculties."

Novelist Indra Gubiņa was the key speaker at the opening of the song festival. A fragment of her recent novel Think for Yourselves, taking place during the song festival in Gotland, Sweden, in 1979, is one of the prose offerings of this issue. Tālivaldis Ķiķauka contributes a "letter" to novelist and playwright Anšlavs Eglītis, who celebrates his 8Oth birthday this October. Ķiķauka analyzes Eglītis' great influence on his own work, Eglītis' role in Latvian literature, particularly in the genre of humour and satire, and his superb literary style.

Three important events for Latvians took place in 1985: the Song Festivals in Rīga and Vancouver and the Baltic Peace and Freedom Cruise, intended to focus the attention of the world on the situation of the Baltic peoples in the USSR. With the unintended assistance of the Soviet regime, the cruise and its subsidiary events, the Baltic Tribunal in Copenhagen, and a highly effective political demonstration in Helsinki, did achieve just that. Some 800 articles have appeared in the world press about the cruise; two of the most reflective are Andrew Brown's "Baltic Tears and Vodka" in The Spectator, Aug. 17, 1985, and Barry Callaghan's "Flowers for forgotten Countrymen" in Toronto Life, Dec. 1985. Imants Zilberts contributes his impressions of the cruise to this issue on pg. 46, while Ilgvars Upmalis writes about the Song Festival in Rīga.

Kārlis Ābele presents his annual synopsis of cultural events in the Latvian exile community for 1985, and E. Elstiņš contributes a photo-reportage of the Song Festival in Vancouver that year (pg. 45). Mārīte Ziemele writes about the week-long Latvian youth seminar Divreizdivi that took place just before the Vancouver Song Festival.

Eduards Smiļģis dominated Latvian theatrical life in his role as director of the "Daile" theatre of Rīga from the 1920's until his death in 1966. We have 2 articles in this issue about Smiļģis, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. Krišs Smilga contributes a brief article on "A Forgotten Esperanto Poet", Nikolajs Ķurzēns. Ķurzēns' only book of poetry, Mia Spektro, was written when he was in his 20's, and published in Budapest in 1938. The Toronto Esperanto Club has recently published his collected works in Esperanto.

Nikolajs Bulmanis writes about the late photographer Bruno Rozītis and about painter Kārlis Neilis in his column. Roberts Avens (aka poet Roberts Mūks) contributes an essay about art, while Voldemārs Avens sends a report on the young Latvian artist Valters Lindbergs, whose work was displayed at the international art fair "ARCO 86" by the Tossan-Tossan gallery of New York. Ēriks Pārups continues his series on the Latvian national resistance during World War II. Poetry in this issue is by Juris Kronbergs (Sweden), Voldemārs Avens (USA), Erna Jureviča (USA), and Marta Bārbale (Latvia). The cover is by Raimonds Slaidiņš.


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Jaunā Gaita