Jaunā Gaita nr. 120, 1978

JG 120

Soviet Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis has said that poetry is a boundary enterprise. (See discussion of Swedish television's special on the Baltic in this issue.) Our poetry offerings which feature many contributions by Latvians living in Western Europe, are a case in point. Vincents, a young man from Germany, is represented by a trilogy and three separate poems, focussing on boundary situations in political history and love, and passionately articulate on both. Egita Levita, also from Germany, gives us three impressionistic poems where associations of a cityscape blend into those of the countryside. The painter and writer Lidija Dombrovska from Denmark is represented by a long poem "To a Tropical God" that starts with the mystique of a tropical setting and ascends to the mystery of artistic creation and love, and three shorter ones where universal despair meets personal sorrow, producing an existential crisis that may just possibly be made humanly productive through a poem or a painting. Ints Cīrulis (Sweden) in his debut also portrays situations where a confrontation between two worlds or states of being occurs. Our prose writers, both women, display personal style, whimsical at times but always lucid, a masterful and serious playfulness, and double time levels impinging upon one another. Benita Veisberga gives us excerpts from her "Further Notations in the Book of Exile" which intertwine daily activities such as watching the Olympics on TV with memories of her Latvian childhood. Daina Šķēle's sketch "A Conversation with Oma or Loneliness in the Big City" plays not only with the two time levels but also with various aspects of the persona. It is replete with literary allusions. Our music editor provides a retrospective on important musical events, and several commentators express their views about the recent 6th All-U.S. Latvian Song Festival in Boston. There is some scathing criticism of the organization of the event and of the criteria used in awarding prizes, as well as more positive evaluation of specific events. Thus choral conductor, Jānis Beloglāzovs, stresses such highlights of the Festival as the symphonic concert, the folk dance spectacular, and the childrens' ensemble performance of a musical version of Anna Brigadere's play Sprīdītis. The latter is also the subject of a thoughtful positive evaluation by Dr. Joachims Brauns (Israel) who finds that the choice of this old folk genre, the unity of spirit in the staging, text adaptation, and musical score, for which composer Andrejs Jansons used folksong motifs and techniques, all contribute to a successful whole. Another adaptation of a great Latvian drama has caused lively controversy in Soviet Latvia where Imants Kalniņš based his new opera on a drama by Rainis. The musical department is rounded out by an informative instalment of Andris Vītoliņš' commentary on new and old records of Latvian music. Kārlis Ābele (Australia) brings us up to date on Latvian émigré cultural life during 1976 and 1977, giving us a thorough overview of activities in music, theater, and art by Latvians in N. America, Europe, and Australia. He cautions that cultural life could be adversely affected by the intolerance of some emigrants on the highly controversial issue of cultural exchange with Soviet Latvia. Another overview of a different set of activities is provided by Kārlis Draviņš (Sweden) who gives us a summary of Soviet Latvian archaeological research in the past year as described in a Rīga publication. He finds the excavations and the historical and ethnographic analyses based on them lively and stimulating. Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia) uses the occasīon of answering an accusation levelled at critics--that they use too many foreign terms and tend to explain simple things in inclusive complex language--to expatiate upon the literary implications of complexity and inclusiveness. With incisive comment and illuminating examples he demonstrates the aesthetic merits of both. As for foreign words, they are to be used when precision so requires. And that simplicity which may appear to inhabit the phenomenal world is probably an illusion created by primitive attempts at explanation. A series of Swedish television programs featuring the three Baltic countries is also reviewed in this issue. Though not always perfectly informed about specific historical situations, the series was subtle and perceptive, focussing on the artists of the three nations and, in the case of Latvia concentrating on three poets. The reviewer found that it was a valiant attempt "to unlock a door which is being held tight from both sides." Among the letters in this issue, there is one from Ģirts Zēgners in Germany who criticizes the Latvian youth who, at the World Latvian Youth Congress, refused to adopt as motto a famous quotation from Rainis ("He will recieve who gives away; he will overcome who loses; that will endure which changes.") as too long and not sufficiently accessible for the young people.

The cover is by Tālivaldis Ķiķauka.


Dr. Inta Ezergaile

Jaunā Gaita