Jaunā Gaita nr. 118, 1978

JG 118

The literary section in this issue presents works by some of the newest Latvian exile poets in North America, introduced by Aina Kraujiete's essay, "Together We Preserve the Key to Eternity". Kraujiete points out that the "key to eternity" for the Latvian people is the Latvian language. That this key is still preserved in the fourth decade of exile is shown by the emergence of these vigorous new voices. Kraujiete distinguishes three phases in the history of Latvian exile poetry - a first wave (1950s to mid1960s) of poets who were educated in, or at least remember, Latvia; a second wave (approximately 1968 to 1970) of exile-bom or exile-educated authors, whose names are associated with the Hannover Song Festival and the "Imanta" poetry minibooks; and, finally, the present group. Like the second wave, these poets have made a strong impression in public readings. Those whose works we print - Sarma Muiniece, Jānis-Imants Sedliņ, Dīna Rauna, Mārtiņ Grants, Jānis Kļaviņ, Rita Rumpētere, Anita Dzirne, Māra Gulēna, Ināra Cedriņa (represented by an eloquent monologue in prose as well as by a poem), Zinta Aistara-Rūtena, Inese Baļķīte, Pauls Miniats, Laris Saliņ and Imants Barus - are among those who appeared at the Toronto Song festival in 1976, at the "literary breakfast" during the Rochester Youth Song Festival in 1977, and in the presentation "The Golden Horse and the Green Goose" in 1978. Some are the children of literary families that have been important in Latvian letters for two or three generations, but all were bom in North America. (New Latvian poets from Western Europe and Australia will be featured in future issues of Jaunā Gaita.)

Baņuta Rubesa, the producer of both the "literary breakfast" at the Rochester Song Festival and "The Golden Horse and the Green Goose", is the second Ontario woman to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for graduate study at Oxford University. She discusses the Scholarship and her plans for research on Jānis Rainis and Latvian nationalism in an interview with Zīle Zichmane.

In "PPP x 2, or, On the Grotesque in the Prose of Tālivaldis Ķiķauka and Marģers Zariņ" Jautrīte Saliņa examines two authors of satire, one living in exile, the other in Soviet Latvia. She looks at their work in two contexts: that of twentieth-century literature, which has been shaped by such masters of the grotesque as Kafka, Grass and Beckett, and also that of the rich Latvian tradition of satirical grotesque in folklore and literature. Ķiķauka (born in 1929, schooled in Latvia, Germany and Canada) began his career in the 1960s with satire of the bourgeois complacency of the Latvian exile community. Saliņa examines his use of the grotesque and bizarre in the title story of his collection, A Streetcar in the Desert (1965), with its surrealist setting and its political significance. Ķiķauka proceeds beyond political and other categories in his 1969 novel, Birds. In this work the animate and inanimate are no longer distinguishable and the characters have no psychological versimilitude; one turns himself into a silver statue and another is slowly digested by his house. Marģers Zariņ (born 1910) is a prolific composer who has turned to prose in the last decade. His novel, The Mock Faust, or the Revised and Enlarged Cookbook (1973) treats Latvia's years of crisis, 1933 to 1945, scattering quaint recipes and archaic words among the murders, treacheries and revenges it recounts. Zariņ's characters are no less mechanical than Ķiķauka's as they act out their parts in the tragic farce. Both authors oppose official orthodoxies, though on different sides of the Iron Curtain, by pointing to the absurdities that those orthodoxies gloss over. Saliņa concludes that we may draw strength from their clear-sighted but terrible mirth.

Marģers Zariņ is represented in this issue by extracts from. "Mysteries and 'Happenings' " (Karogs, nos. 7 and 8, 1975), and from the "Preface"to The Mock Faust.

Ursula Biezā-Karlsona's "Concerning the Pagan God" (translated from English by A. Eglītis) is a powerful story about a young girl and her experience of gods and God.

In this issue we have as well the conclusion of composer and music critic Andris Vītoliņ's notes on the Fourth Westem European Song Festival in London. He touches on a number of topics, among them composers Longīns Apkalns and Jānis Mediņ, and the dearth of young singers in the choirs.

The editorial staff of Jaunā Gaita and the new exile authors dedicate this issue to the Sixth Latvian Song Festival in Boston and to the participants in the Fourth International Latvian Youth Congress.

The cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters

 

Dr. Jānis Svilpis

LONDON, 1977
Uldis Grasis

Jaunā Gaita