Jaunā Gaita nr. 208, marts 1997

JG 208

Our spring issue is predominantly about poetry, with poems, essays, reviews of books of poetry and interviews with poets.

The poetry section has lyric poems with personal themes by five poets. Gundars Pļavkalns' (Australia) poem "Possibilities" beckons to what might have been, to the path not taken. Ilze Baļķīte-Račevska (USA) gratefully records moments of happiness when domestic chores are done and the senses can respond to the sun and rain, forest greens and blues of rivers and lakes. Dagmāre Igale's (USA) vision, on the other" hand, is somber and enigmatic - images of a gun, blood, tears. Juris Zommers (Canada) records his father's dying hours, while Marta Landmane (Great Britain) celebrates the rebirth of passion in not quite old age.

Mārtiņš Lasmanis (Sweden) contributes an essay about the poet Anna Dagda (1915 - 1996). Her only collection "Līdzības" was published in exile in 1950 but recently had a new edition in Latvia.

Poet Fricis Dziesma (Sweden), a regular contributor to JG, is introduced as a translator of- Rainer Maria Rilke by Mārtiņš Lasmanis. Dziesma's translation of Rilke's "Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes" is included. The theme of the poem is Eurydice returning from the underworld, while Orpheus exhibits "a kind of masculine impatience", quite distinct from Rilke's later "Sonnets to Orpheus".

Andrievs Ezergailis (USA) interviews Māris Čaklais (Latvia) about the events of 1988 - 1989 when politics in the Soviet Union changed dramatically. In the preface to his 1969 collection Lapas balss (Voice of the leaf) Čaklais quoted Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "I have always had a horror of the role of bystander." In 1987 Čaklais became the editor-in-chief of the influential Latvian literary weekly Literatūra un Māksla and thus a major participant in the political life of Latvia. In the interview he talks about this time when, in the words of Andrejs Peniķis, "In different ways various groups and individuals aspired to tinker with, reform, democratize, save, and destroy the Soviet system in Latvia" (Journal of Baltic Studies Vol XXVII, No.4).

Lidija Dombrovska (Australia) contributes a short story about a weaver creating many patterns in her tapestries which are misinterpreted by the critics and the public. The artist persists and continues to come up with new ideas.

Aijā žūžū, lāča bērns is the conclusion of a play for all ages by Uldis Siliņš (Australia). It is a potpourri of fairy tale themes and characters with an unusual twist.

One day in the forest is a story written by Dagnija Radziņa, a grade 12 student in Cēsis Latvia, for a competition which encourages young people to write about their family or their region in Latvia. Dagnija describes how she, her parents and her brother spend a day working in the forest which belonged to their family for many generations and which has been returned to them after the end of communist rule. The family is repossessing their forest both physically and emotionally by cutting lumber and clearing branches.

The "Echoes" section looks at the memoirs of General I. Balodis, the rebuilding of a church in Latvia, and reflections on life and art by Anda Līce (Latvia), Skaidrīte Rubene (USA) and Vaira Paegle (USA).

Noted in this issue are Velta Toma, Velta Rūķe-Draviņa, Raimonds Staprāns and the Little Theatre of San Francisco.

In the "Books" section Mārtiņš Lasmanis (Sweden) reviews a book of poems by Alant Vils (Fricis Forstmanis), Skaidrīte Jaunarāja (Latvia) writes about her efforts to add to the "cultural variety and depth" in Latvia through her translation of Marcel Proust. Finding a publisher for the work has made this an especially demanding task. Juris Silenieks (USA) finds Regīna Ezera's collection of six stories Pūķa ala (Dragon's Lair) a book in which the rational and irrational form a unique synthesis. Laimonis Mieriņš' (Great Britain) reflections about the Grand Tour exhibition in London (and Rome) stimulate thoughts about the role of art both past and present.

Music editor Gunta Plostniece looks back at the Tenth Latvian Song Festival in Canada (Toronto, 1996) with an emphasis on works by Tālivaldis Ķeniņš at the festival. Biruta Sūrmane informs us of a new compact disk by composer Pēteris Vasks (Latvia).

Juris Žagariņš (USA) presents a segment of a discussion that took place in late 1996 in the Latvian-language Internet discussion group politika@latnet.lv. The discussion of civil rights and democracy in Latvia takes a turn for deep water when the topic of culture is introduced. It takes Don Marquis' Archy the Cockroach to bring the debate to an amicable conclusion.

The frontispiece is by New York born artist Indra Avens and the cover is by her father Voldemārs Avens (USA).

J.Z., L.Z.


Jaunā Gaita