Jaunā Gaita nr. 204, marts 1996

JG 204

The bell has tolled again, this time for Olafs Stumbrs, who bade farewell to arms on March 18, 1996 in California. One of his poems, dated 1968, when the freedom aspirations of workers and intellectuals of Czechoslovakia shook the world, is reprinted on pg. 1 of this issue.

Our poetry section has works by Margita Gailīte (USA), Māris Ķirsons (Canada), Valentīns Pelēcis (USA), the late Modris Zeberinš (USA) and Mārtinš Ruks, a newcomer from Latvia. Two translations by Alant Vils of poems by Swedish poets Carl Gustaf af Leopold and Israel Holstrom are our tribute to Fricis Forssmann's', alias Aslant Veils, 90'th birthday.

The second and last instalment of Valters Nollendorfs' (USA/Latvia) "meditative letter" about the late Estonian poet Ivar Ivask's Baltic Elegies finds that it is a complex, mufti-layered return to his roots, a spiral trajectory through cultures of the world, which lvask embraced as few have done, ending where it began, in Amberland, in Rengu cemetery, where Ivask has his final resting place.

Viewpoint, a play by Lidija Dombrovska (Australia) deals with the recent contacts that people have re-established with their past in Latvia. Everyone in the play has a different point of view: the main character, a former exile, his non-Latvian wife and the folks back home. It is played on the background of ever-changing technology.

Music and visual arts form the two main themes of this issue. Imants Mežaraups (USA) records his impressions of the 6'th International New Music Festival, which for the first time took place in Latvia. It ran for ten days during October 1995, with 30 concerts in six cities, featuring performances and works from many lands (including Mežaraups' own symphony "Procession"). A highlight was the return to Latvia of conductor Mariss Jansons. While artistically successful and well-attended, the festival raised questions about the future of the arts in Latvia and in the world generally.

Gunta Mundheim (USA) interviewed Aleksandrs Viļumanis, the artistic director of the Latvian State Opera following the ' appropriately grand reopening of the restored Opera House. Three main concerns were voiced: the loss of star performers during the closing of the Opera House for restoration work, the nurturing of new talent which is essential in a small country, and the development of co-productions with opera companies in Finland, Belgium, Denmark etc for artistic and financial reasons.

Our art editor Voldemārs Avens (USA) reports some of the highlights of the 1995 art scene in New York, including exhibits of the work of Piet Mondrian, Claes Oldenburg and Edvard Munch. 1995 also saw two debut exhibitions by artists from Latvia: Zoja Frolova and Jānis Jakobsons exhibited at the Mimi Ferzt Gallery, while the Clark Gallery hosted ceramicist Pēteris Martinsons. Ģirts Puriņš, president of the American Latvian Artists' Association (ALMA), organized the association's annual exhibition and conference in Pittsburgh, including work by several artists from Latvia. Highlights of the conference programme were talks by Vilnis Auziņš, director of the Latvian Museum of Photography, and lvars Heinrihsons of the Latvian Academy of Art, and a showing of Andris Grinbergs' controversial erotic film "Selfportrait", filmed during the Brezhnev era in 1972 but not shown until recently. An unexpected visit to the conference by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko also proved controversial.

Nikolajs Bulmanis (Canada) marks the death in Stockholm this January of Imants Zilberts, whose elegant, spare, and sometimes enigmatic political cartoons first appeared in issue 27 of Jaunā Gaeta and have appeared regularly in its pages since then. This issue also contains the conclusion of Bulmanis' article "Autumn in Riga - Reflections". Laimonis Mieriņš discusses the exhibition of African art at the Royal Academy of Art in London.

Gunars Zvejnieks (Sweden) analyzes recent publications by Carl Bildt, .former prime minister of Sweden; he concludes that Bildt is a friend and supporter of the Baltic States, and is interested in stability in the Baltic region. Andrievs Ezergailis (USA) examines the result of the Latvian parliamentary election last fall, concluding that there were no real winners.

Juris Mazutis, recently retired from the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, writes about retirement and the choices one can make as one sets out on this "journey" in his latest 'Travels - a Diary" column.

Juris Silenieks (USA) reviews a book of verse by Edvins Raups (Latvia). He finds the work far removed from the time-honoured traditions of Latvian poetry, in particular, for being much imbued with post-modernist sensitivities, among them fragmentation and discontinuity. Raups' lines are jagged, thought is never fully elaborated, every rhetorical impulse is consciously suppressed. Raups deserves much credit for his iconoclastic effort to develop a new sense of poetics. Uldis Siliņš, playwright and actor from Australia, discusses the book Mārtiņš Zīverts in Australia, about the great playwright Mārtiņš Zīverts. Siliņš' article contains a great deal of previously unpublished information about Zīverts and his theatrical tour of Australia in 1957.

The frontispiece is by Pēteris Martinsons (Latvia) and the cover is by Ilmārs Rumpēters (USA).

L.Z., J.Z.


Jaunā Gaita