Jaunā Gaita nr. 209, jūnijs 1997

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JG 209

Jaunā Gaita extends best wishes for the success of the Tenth Latvian Song Festival in the USA, Cleveland, Ohio, July 25 to 27, 1997. The following lines from a poem in this issue by Ingrīda Vīksna seem appropriate: - Listen, listen carefully - / hidden amongst fragrant boughs / the nightingale sings!

For over 50 years these festivals have provided an opportunity for Latvian writers to meet among themselves and with the literary public in the Traditional "Writers' Mornings". This issue's poetry section offers a similar taste of the talents working in Latvian literature outside Latvia: Andrejs Eglītis (Sweden), Ingrīda Vīksna and lndra Gubiņa (Canada), Voldemārs Avens, Rita Gāle, Valentīns Pelēcis (USA) and Roberts Mūks (Latvia/USA) are all contributors.

Velta Toma, one of the finest living Latvian poets, began her career before World War II in Latvia, continued it in Germany after the war and then in Canada. Her controversial friendships with Latvian writers of the Soviet era expressed her confidence in their strength and ability to maintain a Latvian identity against pressure to assimilate into a "Soviet" culture. Recently prominent artists and writers gathered in Riga to honour Toma on her 85'th birthday. Excerpts of speeches given by Māris Čaklais, Viesturs Vecgrāvis and Māra Zālīte are printed in this issue, along with an interview of Toma by Anita Liepiņa, our prose editor.

Tālivaldis Ķiķauka (Canada) and Gunars Bekmans (USA) share an ironical outlook. Bekmans' short story "Rūbergs" is about sexual jealousy, while Ķiķauka's "The Exterminator" describes a man's struggle to keep nature away from his property. Lidija Dombrovska (Australia) contributes a short play which includes several computers among its4ramatis personae.

Imants Mežaraups (USA/Latvia) gives a positive review of the European Broadcasting Union's March 17 broadcast of a concert from the Riga Dom cathedral, featuring the Riga Radio Choir, soprano Sonora Vaice and organist Aivars Kalējs. Among the works performed was a Mass by Arturs Maskats which was commissioned for this concert; it is one of the first large liturgical compositions to be written in Latvia since the Second World War.

Gunars Zvejnieks (Sweden) describes the premiere of Romualds Kalsons' opera "Pazudušais dēls" (The Prodigal Son), with libretto based on a play by Rūdolfs Blaumanis, adapted by the late Ojārs Vācietis and Jānis Streičs.

Viktors Hausmanis (Latvia) writes about a performance in Latvia by the San Francisco "little theatre", which has long been a builder of bridges between Latvia and the world outside. Economist Gundars Ķeninš-King is a bearer of good news in this issue: the credit-rating agency Standard and Poors has recognized Latvia as a country where foreign investment is reasonably safe. Aija Janelsiņa-Priedīte (Sweden) introduces Sophie, the 14 year old heroine of Jostein Gaarder's bestseller Sophie's World in a fascinating review article.

Book reviews occupy a major portion of this issue: Biruta Sūrmane writes about Putnu stunda (The Birds' Hour), a prize-winning novel by Ilze Indrāne; Visvaldis Bokalders (Sweden) discusses a collection of 6 essays about the architecture of Riga. Indulis Kažociņš (Great Britain) reviews Andrievs Ezergailis' The Holocaust in Latvia 1941 - 1944. Valdemārs Ancītis (Latvia) praises Benjaminš Jēgers' monumental Bibliography of Latvian Exile Books and Periodicals and Jānis Liepiņš (Latvia) comments on Latvians in Great Britain, published by the Latvian National Council in Great Britain.

Juris Žagariņš (USA) presents a recent discussion of NATO's proposed enlargement in the internet newsgroup soc.culture.baltics. The discussion digresses to the question of how a nation's size relates to its security and its ability to adapt to the demands of transnational business and instantaneous global communications. Don Marquis' Archy the Cockroach contributes a conversation with a flea to shed insight on the pros and cons of small size.

Noted in this issue are conductor Vizma Maksiņa (Canada), recipient of the first Jānis Bieriņš memorial prize, George Soros' statement that "leaving social decisions to the market poses danger to society itself" and the archives of Pēteris Aigars and Jānis Andrups, which reveal that the priorities of the political leaders of the Latvian exile community in the 1950s were focused on the past and were quite different from those of the editors of Jaunā Gaita.

Laimonis Zandbergs introduces us to Hermanis Endzeliņš, a friend of Latvia's first president Kārlis Ulmanis, and to Ulmanis' correspondence with Endzeliņš which lasted from the early years of this century until Ulmanis' death. Several hundred letters from Ulmanis to Endzeliņš came to light last year not far from the Endzeliņš' homestead near Valmiera.

Laimonis Mieriņš (Great Britain) discusses an exhibition of Chinese artifacts thousands of years old at the British Museum in London. Voldemārs Avens (USA) provides a sketch of Ilmārs Rumpēters, the art director of JG for many years and the creator of many of its front covers, including this one, as well as the frontispiece for this issue.

J.Z., L.Z.


Jaunā Gaita