Jaunā Gaita nr. 286. Rudens 2016
, active in the Latvian resistance movement against the Nazi and Soviet occupiers, one of the coordinators of refugee boats across the Baltic Sea to the Swedish island Gotland, later herself a refugee in Stockholm who became an educator and author, and also frequent contributor to our quarterly, celebrated her 100th birthday. A poem by Juris Kronbergs is dedicated to her as well as articles by editor/publisher Ligita Kovtuna and essayist Sanita Upleja.
Our associate editor Linda Treija devotes her article to Latvian artists who have attended the Art Institute of Chicago – abstract expressionists (see reproductions on pp. 6, 16 and 38) as well as recent creators of three-dimensional works of art (pp. 10 and 47).
Exile artist Daina Dagnija, who moved back to her homeland from New York, is introduced by art historian Māris Brancis. One of Dagnija’s collages from an exhibit in the city of Jelgava graces our cover, another is reproduced on p. 68.
The frontispiece features one of many of Jānis Kalmīte’s (1907-1996) iconic rijas, the oldest structures of Latvian homesteads, which after WWII became an artistic symbol of ethnic culture in the face of Soviet occupation.
Vilnis Auziņš, art photographer and photography historian, looks back on the pioneering work of Mārtiņš Buclers (1866-1944).
LITERATURE AND LITERARY COMMENTARY
Poet Uldis Bērziņš shares philosophical comments, delivered last summer at the Rīga conference “Memories of Future Freedom”, as well as words which were spoken upon accepting a literary award named after Dzintars Sodums (who translated James Joyce’s Ulysses into Latvian).
Kudos from poet Maija Meirāne to our associate editor Sarma Muižniece Liepiņa who received the annual Ēriks Raisters Memorial Fund Award (New York) for her achievements in literature and art, furthering Latvian culture outside Latvia and educating emigre youth. In celebration, we present Liepiņa’s whimsical poem “The Sea Scorpion Eats, Makes Merry, and Plays Cards at the 2015 Annual Iowa State Fair” (p. 24).
Rita Laima Bērziņa reflects on life as a child among the community of Latvian artists and writers, including her mother (a poet) and father (a painter), in New York and New Jersey from the 1960’s to the beginning of the 1980’s.
Irony, word-play and sense of humor characterize Ilze Lāce-Verhaege’s minimalist prose work about a recent Euroimmigrant. Lāce-Verhaege, a lawyer, works in Bruxelles at the European Council.
“Lastochka” (Swallow), a poem by Russian poet Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938), who perished in Stalin’s purges, is rendered in Latvian by Uldis Bērziņš and Einārs Pelšs.
Folklorist Guntis Šmidchens, head of the Baltic Studies Program at the University of Washington, examines Estonian folk tales as possible sources for the epic verse drama The Golden Horse (1909), by poet/playwright Jānis Rainis (1865-1929).
Līvija Baumane-Andrejevska, a doctoral student at the University of Latvia, dwells upon the role of Baroque composers in Elza Ķezbere’s (1911-2011) poetic oevre.
Ingus Barovskis (University of Latvia) describes the career of literary critic/translator Dzidra Kalniņa (1927-1984), who was forced to resign in the 1970’s from her position at the Latvian State University because of her interest in “modernist” West European writers and her contacts with Latvian and Russian dissidents.
HISTORY AND ACTUALITIES
Stanford University historian Elga Zālīte looks into the historical archives of several generations of Latvian political exiles at Californian universities.
Madara Eversone (University of Latvia) describes the genesis and organizational structure of the Soviet Latvian Writers Union.
Sanita Upleja pens a women’s rights essay, largely related to frequently misinterpreted Islamic dress codes in an ever broadening global society.
The section Dažos vārdos (In a Few Words) offers a broad perspective of recent cultural events in Latvia, its diaspora as well as sociopolitical happenings, all relevant to the Baltic region, in Western and Eastern Europe, USA, Ukraine and Russia.
Debess aiztur elpu (Heaven Holds Its Breath), by Valdis Rūmnieks and Andrejs Migla, is a historical novel the action of which takes place during WWI and Latvia’s early independence years (reviewed by Juris Šlesers).
German artist Julius Döring (1818-1898) in his notes Ko es nekad negribētu aizmirst (What I Would Never Want to Forget), recently translated into Latvian (879 pages!), wrote about his stay in Kurzeme (Courland), then part of the Russian empire (Jānis Liepiņš).
Erna Jansone’s Sienas segu un spilvenu meti latviskā stilā (Latvian Wall Hangings and Pillow Designs) is about ethnic weaving patterns (Māris Brancis).