Jaunā Gaita nr. 246. septembris 2006

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JG 246


Imants Auziņš, one of Latvia's best known poets of the older generation, with gentle and vivid strokes, paints the city of Riga on its 800th anniversary, his home region of Sēlija in southeastern Zemgale (Semigallia), and his fellow poet Leons Briedis. He then turns to poetic observations of life in today's Latvia. Remembering the collapse of the Soviet empire 15 years ago, we are printing a photograph of the despised Riga headquarters of the Soviet secret police (Stūŗa māja, i.e., Corner House) and an artistically and historically significant poem, written by Andrejs Irbe on August 20-21, 1991. In the short story by Indra Gubiņa, author of 26 prose and poetry books, a woman burns her diaries and letters, along with the memories and regrets that the old papers arouse.

Ingrīda Jēkabsone-Neidere's compelling memoir is about her father, the bibliophile, bookseller and publisher, Jānis Neiders, during the 1930's and 1940's. While Ainārs Zelčs describes his avid listening to the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe during the Soviet years, Vilnis Baumanis tells us about his work in the VOA Latvian broadcasting department where he used his native language on a daily basis, a rare privilege, indeed, for an exile. Graphic designer, writer, journalist and part-time teacher, Ilmārs Krasts Bastjānis recollects his classroom experience with Latvian children in Los Angeles. The first installment of Gundars Pļavkalns' essay on modernism is devoted almost entirely to Gustave Flaubert. Art critic Diana Krūmiņa Engstedt surveys the creative life of Maya Eizin Öijer, whose work is reproduced on pp. 29 and 40.

Andris Dzenītis, a noteworthy and hugely accomplished young Latvian composer, is introduced by Helēna Gintere. Izabella Cielēns, a specialist in French letters, contributes an article about the eminent Latvian feminist and social democrat parliamentarian, Klāra Kalniņa (1874-1964). Ildze Kronta in her review article discusses Gundega Repše's „epistolatory biography" of Ojārs Vācietis, one of the most important „new wave" poets in the 1960's and 1970's. Of this period Repše writes: With a shock I realized how great the influence of the printed word was. Like a childhood trauma. We are the way we are because of Vācietis, Belševica, Ziedonis, Peters and others.

The other review article, by Rolfs Ekmanis, examines the impressive Vācu literatūra un Latvija, 1890-1945 (German Literature and Latvia, 1890-1945), published by University of Latvia's Literature, Folklore and Art Institute and edited by the literary historian Benedikts Kalnačs, himself a contributor to this 880-page volume. The other four contributors, - Ingūna Daukste-Silasproģe, Zanda Gūtmane, Jana Vērdiņa, and Māra Grudule, hold recent University of Latvia doctorates in philology. The 144page article on Baltic German Literature by Grudule has earned her the Latvian Writers' Union Prize for literary criticism.

The Marginalia section covers a broad range of topics, from the gradual disappearance of press freedom in Russia to the founding of the first exclusively Latgallian radio station in Latvia. Ainārs Zelčs comments on his electronic publishing enterprise eraksti, also accessible through the delfi.lv internet portal, the largest in Latvia. Eraksti also has a link to our contributing editor, Juris Žagariņš' website containing selected materials from each issue of JG, including the contents and English-language summaries.

Book reviews cover Ainārs Zelčs' „what if?" historical novel, 1940, exploring the possibility that Latvia's President Ulmanis, instead of capitulating to the Russians without opposition, had decided to resist militarily as the Finns did in 1939 (reviewed by Juris Šlesers and Juris Silenieks), Zigmunds Skujiņš' literary reminiscences (Rimands Ceplis), Rita Gāle's latest collection of poems (Lalita Muižniece), painter and poet Lidija Dombrovska's Australian memoir (Juris Silenieks), vignettes of 19 most noteworthy Latvian democrats (Franks Gordons), Journal of Baltic Studies (Spring 2006) and a new English-language edition of the history of Latvia in the 20th century (both by Gundars Ķeniņš-Kings).

The Kiberkambaris (Cyberspace) section contains a thought provoking discussion between Ojārs Kalniņš, who directs the state-sponsored Latvian Institute in Riga, and Juris Žagariņš about Latvian President Vaira Viķe-Freiberga's speech to the U.S. Congress (June 6, 2006). The same topic is treated in the editor's Nota Bene.

The cover is by Haralds Norītis. Art photography is represented by Ulvis Alberts, Valdis Brauns and Gunārs Janaitis.


Ilze Valdmane

Jaunā Gaita