Jaunā Gaita nr. 182, maijs 1991

JG 182


Poetry in this issue is by Jānis Ramba and Anna Auziņa from Latvia, Juris Zommers and Juris Mazutis from Canada, and Sarma Muižniece and Mārtinš Grants from the USA. Ramba, Zommers and Muižniece have written about their children in their poems: Ramba in a moving love poem dedicated to his wife, Zommers in a tribute to his daughter, who seems to have inherited her father's love of reading and literature, and Muižniece in 'Another Letter to Latvia", expressing her divided feelings about living abroad while regarding Latvia as her and her children's true home.

Jānis Ramba, Sarma Muižniece and Mārtiņš Grants belong to Latvian literary families (Ramba is the son of poet Vizma Belševica, Muižniece is the daughter of Lalita Muižniece and granddaughter of Rūta Skujiņa and Jūlijs Lācis, Grants is Valdis Krāslavietis' son) and have been invited to read from their oeuvre at poetry readings during the Latvian Song Festival in Toronto, Canada this summer. Another literary event of note taking place during the Festival and after it, is the performance of Aspazija's little-known first play The Avenger. During the Festival the performances will be in Latvian, but afterwards the play will be performed with an English commentary by Baņuta Rubesa and Neil Bartlett for Canadian audiences.

The young playwright Valdis Rūmnieks has contributed his play The Green Star (Zaļā zvaigzne) to this issue. The play was recently published in the literary monthly Karogs (Rīga); we are publishing excerpts from the play, which is about poet Aleksandrs Čaks (1902-1950) and his humiliation by the Stalinist literary establishment after the Second World War. Čaks was the first Latvian poet to write about life "on the streets"; his epic about the Latvian Riflemen, Touched by Eternity (Mūžības skartie), was banned by the Communists until the Gorbachev period. Since then, dramatizations of this work have been one of the highlights of the "Third Awakening". Rūmnieks' play will soon be produced by the "Musical Poetic Theatre of Rīga" with a score by Dace Štauvere-Aperāne, who lives in the USA and who collaborated with Baņuta Rubesa on the musicals Heroic Deeds (Varoņdarbi) and Tango Lugano.

Another playwright who appears in this issue is Mārtiņš Zīverts, who died in 1990. Viktors Hausmanis has contributed a conversation he recorded with Zīverts during one of Zīverts' last visits to Rīga in 1989. Zīverts discusses his last play, Iphigenia, the sources of his ideas for plays and some of his writing techniques. About life Zīverts concludes: "The last thing that a person will learn about - actually never learn about - is himself. One can find out a great deal about one's surroundings, but not about oneself."

Pēteris Aldinš and Viktors Neimanis have written tributes to our late music editor Imants Sakss - Aldiņš as a young musician who regarded Sakss as a mentor, Neimanis as an admirer of Sakss' columns in Jaunā Gaita. Gunars Bekmans has contributed a short story titled "L A Law" about a love affair between a young man living in Los Angeles and a policewoman. Anita Liepiņa reviews the recent film version of one of the most popular Latvian novels ever written, Ilona Leimane's The Heiress of Vilkači (Vilkaču mantiniece), and discovers that the main conflict in the novel, written in the 1930's, could be viewed as that between the old, female-dominated pre-Christian culture and the male-dominated culture that took over with the arrival of Christianity.

Book reviews include Gundars Pļavkalns' interesting and insightful comments on Voldemārs Avens' poetry collection Avis and Biruta Sūrmane's review of Nikolajs Kalniņš' novel Cloud Pushers (Mākonu stūmēji). Mārtiņš Lasmanis contributes a positive review of Eduards Freimanis' collection of short stories - critical opinion about the work of Freimanis is divided, and both positive and negative reviews of his novels have appeared in earlier issues of Jaunā Gaita. Andris Vītoliņš reviews volume 29 of Archivs; with music as its main subject, while Dace Bula discusses Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga's collection of essays about Latvian dainas, On the Amber Hill (Dzintara kalnā). Gunars Zvejnieks reviews Valentine Lasmane's oral history of the exodus of thousands of Latvians from Latvia to Sweden across the Baltic Sea at the end of the Second World War. Imants Bite's review of Jānis Siliņš' encyclopedic Art of Latvia is printed as a separate article in this issue.

Ruta Muižniece has contributed a moving in memoriam for artist Kurts Fridrichsons. Laimonis Mieriņš contributes his annual review of the visual arts in Latvia for 1990. Leons Briedis discusses the meaning and true role of poetry in his article "Gods When We Dream" (Dievi, kad sapņojam): poetry can only deal with universal and eternal values; this does not mean that poetry has to deny national or cultural or linguistic specifics, indeed, argues Briedis, "the most national is also the most transnational, which should never be confused with so-called cosmopolitanism or national nihilism." Biminita Grunde-Bērziņa writes about language as it appears as a subject of the dainas.

Andrievs Ezergailis presents some of the thoughts of Ernests Treiguts on the diplomatic future of Latvia. Treiguts was a reporter for the Latvian telegraph agency in Berlin during the 1930's. Since the war he has lived in Western Europe and continued to observe political and diplomatic developments there, particularly with regard to Latvia. The first two volumes of his memoirs were recently published and have aroused great interest in the Latvian reading public. Juris Mazutis writes about propaganda, using as examples the propaganda used by Gorbachev in his denial of the legitimacy of the referendums held in the Baltic states prior to Gorbachev's own on the future of the Soviet Union, and that used by the USA and its allies during the recent war against Iraq.

The cover is by Voldemārs Avens (USA) and the frontispiece, titled "Firestorm", is by Valdis Didrichsons (Canada). The photograph on page 4, depicting the celebration of the summer solstice in Latvia, is by Juris Krieviņš (Latvia).


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Jaunā Gaita