Jaunā Gaita nr. 249. jūnijs 2007

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JG 249


The assortment of poems is from Valters Nollendorfs' forthcoming book. They are composed mainly of short lines and in a telegraphic style that makes the author's reflections more direct and poignant. For many years, Nollendorfs headed the German language and literature department at the University of Wisconsin and edited Monatshefte, the oldest continuing scholarly journal of German studies in the US (since 1899). After the collapse of the USSR, he moved back to his native Latvia where he edits the Yearbook of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (MoOL), a learning, documentation, and research centre about the years of occupation by the Soviet Union (1940-1941, 1945-1991) and Nazi Germany (1941-1945). The untimely death of Laima Līvena (1943-2006) prompts Rolfs Ekmanis to summarize the history of one of her finest poems describing how the chained thunder-god, Pērkons, curses those who betray their country. It was written in 1968; however, the Soviet censors did not allow it to appear in print until 1989. In her autobiographical novelette (third installment), Marta Landmane writes of her frustrated love affair during her late teens while Latvia was occupied by Germany in WW II.

Pianist and pedagogue Helēna Gintere explores the artistic process of her former student, composer Jānis Petraškevičs who, despite his young age (b.1978), has received important commissions from European and North American countries. His best-known works to date are Distance(s) (1999) and Arktos (2000). As Petraškevičs states, Arktos reflects the north's purity of air, the power of its darkness and the crystal clarity of its light.

Juris Zommers interviews the winner of the 2007 Jānis Bieriņš Memorial Prize, Sarma Muižniece, one of the few Latvians born in exile to establish a literary reputation in Latvian. Jānis Bieriņš was a long-time associate editor of our journal.

Juris Rozītis' review article "What is the Right Way to Read Other People's Letters?" discusses the pros and cons of letters and letter writing as a literary genre. He uses poet Anna Dagda's (1915-1996) recently published letters to her friends and literary colleagues as an example. In her introduction, Valentīne Lasmane, who collected and edited this epistolatory volume, justifies classifying Dagda's personal letters by their contents. This provides valuable insights into Dagda's own work and Latvian literature in the 20th century. Juris Šlesers' tightly argued account deals with poet, bibliographer and essayist Jānis Krēsliņš' recently published book containing interviews, reviews and essays about Latvian history and literature (written from 1947 to 2005). Many of Krēsliņš' writings have been published in JG over the years. Bārbala Stroda's review article examines three contemporary literary retellings of myths - Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood's Penelopiade, Russian cult writer Viktor Pelevin's Šlem užasa (The Helmet of Horror), and Latvian novelist Pauls Bankovskis' Drēbes jeb Ādama tērps. Stroda also makes references to Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myths.

Book reviews cover a Festschrift dedicated to poet and scholar, Valda Dreimane (1932-1994), assembled by Maija Meirāne (reviewer: Rasma Birzgale); the satirical fantasy Ķēves dēls Kurbads by Jānis Turbads (a.k.a. Valdis Zeps) (Rimands Ceplis); issue 14 of Letonica, the journal of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia (Rolfs Ekmanis); two recent fiction books by the prolific Bankovskis (Astra Roze); the 2005 Yearbook of the MoOL (Franks Gordons); an anthology of Latvian 19th, 20th and 21st century poetry in Ukrainian (translated by Yuri Zavhorodny) (Jānis Elsbergs).

In the art section, Gundars Pļavkalns continues his overview of the modernist movement discussing the work and influence of Pablo Piccaso, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage et al. Our co-editor, Voldemārs Avens, examines a monograph on painter and writer Lidija Dombrovska-Larsena by Pēteris Zeile, a professor at the Latvian Academy of Art. The art work is by the painters Silvija Šteinere and Laris Strunke, the art photographer Sibilla Savage and drawings by Māris Bišofs and Ilmārs Rumpēters. The cover is by Laimonis Mieriņš.

Juris Žagariņš, in his regular Internet section, presents a discussion on the border agreement concluded between Latvia and Russia. The agreement included the Russian de jure annexation of some border townships that were part of Latvia before WWII. Three University of Latvia scholars, Ieva Kalve, Gundars Ķeniņš King and Andris Pētersons, have penned an article on social responsibility. The Marginalia covers a broad range of topics, from the writers Jurga Ivanauskaite and Kurt Vonnegut, to the Estonian president's speech at the University of Helsinki.

Ilze Valdmane

Jaunā Gaita