Jaunā Gaita nr. 216, marts 1999

JG 216

Prof. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, (L'Universite de Montreal), presently the Director of the Latvian Institute in Riga, examines how the concepts of national identity and patriotism have affected Latvia in the past and today. She identifies three goals. Firstly, all residents in Latvia, whatever their national origin, must become loyal Latvian citizens. Secondly, the international community must be enlightened about the life-and-death issues confronting Latvia, with nearly half of the population being largely non-Latvian speaking, and, thirdly, the absolute necessity to confront these issues with responsible political programmes. She concludes with a heartfelt personal testament to her ancestral homeland.

The prose section features a new episode in the life of Bille, Volfgangs potatoe's, from the forthcoming third part of Vizma Belševica's (Latvia) classic childhood memoirs. Schoolgirl Bille has stolen a potato from the jealously guarded bag beneath the bed of mean Volfgang, who has been granted temporary shelter at her mother's house, thus creating a showdown. An early episode in Bille's story was published in JG #186, 1992. The poetry section includes works by Maija Meirāne, Inese Račevska (both USA), and Lolita Gulbe (Canada). Mārtiņš Lasmanis (Sweden) analyzes the poetic achievement of Mirdza Bendrupe (Latvia), whose last collection Aiz (Beyond) appeared in 1996, a year after her death, a fitting crown to a poetic career spanning 50 years, beginning in the 30's , enduring nearly 30 years of enforced silence, and resuming in 1967.

The poet Rita Gāle (USA) discovered in her basement a little box containing a treasure trove of old negatives. The time was spring, 1952, a picnic at Eagle Rock, NY, featuring most of the Latvian literary figures of that day, living in the New York area. Gunārs Saliņš (USA) now provides a brief commentary of this event.

Jānis Krēsliņš (USA) surveys the life-work of linguist Edīte Hauzenberga-Šturma, which began as proof reader for Prof. Jānis Endzelīn's Lettische grammatik (1922) later as head of Latvian Folklore Repository, and as one of the editors of several standard dictionaries.

Vitauts Jaunarājs (USA) uses Jungian analyses of a popular folksong to spell out the implicit lessons about Latvian national character, while Andris Vītoliņš (Sweden, now Latvia) celebrates the achievements of Tālivaldis Ķeniņš on the occasion of the publication of a study of his life and career by Ingrīda Zemzars, Tālivaldis Ķeniņš. Ķeniņš taught at the Univ. of Toronto, has composed a large body of music, including eight symphonies. Recently the city of Ottawa named a street "Kenins Crescent" in his honour.

The 1999 winner of the Jānis Bieriņš Memorial Prize is Dace Aperāne (Canada, now USA) for her achievements as a composer, and as a tireless conductor and organizer of, musical events and activities. Jānis Bieriņš (1908 - 1987) was a long-time assistant editor of JG.

The achievements of, Dr. Solveiga Miezītis (Canada, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) were recognized with an award by PBLA (World Free Latvian Assoc.). She reflects on her decades long second career in the Latvian community, using her expertise as an educator, culminating in her participation in the development of the new psychology department of the University of Latvia, Riga.

November 23, 1998 marked the centennial of the birth of Martin E. Straumanis, an internationally recognized educator and researcher in the field of materials science and engineering, whose home was divided between prewar Latvia and the postwar USA. Dr. W. J. James, Director of the Materials Science Research Laboratory at the University of Missouri, where Straumanis worked from 1953 until his death in 1973, reflects on the life of his friend. In the cyberspace medium of Kiberkambaris, Latvian colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic take the occasion of Straumanis' centennial to engage in a lively discussion of the problems and challenges of higher education reform in Latvia.

Franks Gordons (Israel) summarizes the life of an unusual man, Solomon Levinberg born and educated in Latvia, who served in the Latvian army, headed the Latvian section of the Zionist organization "Betar", then in 1939 arrived in Palestine, where he actively participated in the birth of the new nation of Israel.

In the book section, Valdemārs Ancītis (Latvia) evaluates a very useful bibliographic survey of the history of the Latvian novel, Latviešu romānu rādītājs by Raimonds Briedis, Harijs Hiršs, and Anite Rožkalns. Juris Silenieks (USA) reviewing Anita Rožkalns' book, Palma vējā, which concentrates on the literary politics of Latvian exile literature, says it will be useful but sometimes controversial, while Janis Ramba (Latvia) characterizes it as a "good helper". Auseklis Zaļinskis (USA) reviews three books. He is critical of Olga Grendze's Atmiņu pēdas, while finding Jānis Riekstiņš' Ekspropriācija, and "Kulaki" Latvijā very informative.

In the cultural highlights summary, the editors note the publication of Greetings from Latvia: occasional papers of the Latvian P. E. N. ; a new CD with music by Jānis Ivanovs; and, selection of Pēteris Vasks compositions by choreographer Bill T. Jones for his new productions.

The frontispiece is by Raimonds Staprāns (USA), the cover by Vitauts Sīmanis (USA).

Juris Zommers

Jaunā Gaita