Jaunā Gaita nr. 88, 1972
At a recent conference on the heritage and identity of ethnic groups in New York, the noted American critic Albert Kazin stated that time has made nonsense of the „melting-pot" concept. Ethnicity, as a something larger than self, making the self a bridge to the past, is of great value; and culturally, the ethnic groups are now the richest and most interesting. Of course, man's ability to maintain his cultural heritage requires not only an awareness of the past, but also continuing, vital, intellectual creativity in building upon that past. JG 88 includes several articles that testify to the vitality and growth of Latvian culture outside the native country.
Kārlis Ābele's (Australia) „Latvian Emigré Cultural Life During 1971" surveys the achievements in Latvian literature, music, art, and theatre in North America, Europe, and Australia. Dr. Ābele also notes an increasing concern with the need for youth's greater involvement and interest. That growing involvement seems indicated in Māra Lācis-Celle's (Califomia) article „Two Times Two - A Project with Unlimited Potential." Two Times Two is a yearly educational summer camp for Latvian students; it enables them to participate in seminars on Latvian language, literature, music, art, folklore, ethnography, and history, and in discussion groups on numerous social and political issues. The lecturers include many leading Latvian artists, intellectuals, and pedagogues. The report on the 1971 summer session in Sierra Nevada, California, seems to augur well for the project's flexibility and adaptibility to changing conditions, as well as to indicate that many young Latvians, rather than vanishing in the „melting-pot" are becoming more aware of the need to find their cultural roots as they look toward the future. Also included in this issue is an interview with Dr. Valdis Muižnieks (Kalamazoo) and Brunis Rubess (Toronto), two of the directors of a new Latvian fund for the furtherance and popularization of Latvian culture in foreign countries and languages.
Latvian past tenacity and ability to overcome emerge in the 11th installment of Uldis Ģērmanis' (Stockholm) monograph The Commander from Zemgale, a study of the career of Col. Jukums Vācietis, the Latvian-born First Commander of the Red Army. Drawing upon political and legalistic documents in the national archives of many Western European countries, newspaper reports, governmental proclamations, speeches, memoirs, and innumerable other sources, Ģērmanis chronicles the results of the September 1917 offensive against Rīga by the German 8th Army. Only the bitter and heroic resistance of the 2nd brigade of the Latvian riflemen enabled the demoralized Russian 12th Army (numbering half a million men) to retreat. After the German occupation of Rīga, secret Latvian organizations determined upon fighting for national independence from the Russian empire.
Valerija Baltiņa's (Minneapolis) article „On Poetry" attempts to define the nature of poetic expression and the poet's role in the 20th century. In an epoch when the chief aim of art is no longer seen as the mental and moral enlargement of man, the poet is no longer Samuel Johnson's „interpreter of nature and legislator of mankind"; rather, he is the individualist, the „outsider", and his poetry also is usually subjective, individual, and strange. The modern poet probes the depths of his own unique psyche and transforms the world into something new, unexpected, even incomprehensible. Other frequent characteristics are the use of the ugly of shocking, and a hard, almost metallic quality to the desire to be liberated, rational and free from sentimentality. This hard-edged modernity can be seen in the poems of Pāvils Johansons printed in this issue. Guna Ikona's work exhibits modern use of tricks with shape and form - as well as „metaphysical shudders" and haunting glimpses of what is past.
Andrejs Irbe views the past in a mythical, magical light, and Aina Kraujiete's poem „Goliath Carries David in His Arms" juxtaposes ancient myth and modern horror. Juris Kronbergs broods about the destruction of an individual poetic talent - yet can ironically sum up life as a bagatelle.
A folio of paintings by Jānis Gailis, (New York, N.Y.), the former enfant terrible of Latvian art, is reviewed by four art critics. The emphasis is on Gailis' dynamic, idiosyncratic, often clashing use of color and movement. The new books reviewed include short story collections by Aivars Kalve and Skaidrīte Kaldupe, both published in Rīga, and by Osvalds Lācis, published in Minneapolis. Gunta Rozentāle (Minneapolis) calls Lācis a chronicler of the recent past, writing in the tradition of 19th century realism. Aivars Kalve writes about ordinary men - but with such richness, intensity, and subtlety that Gunars Irbe (Stockholm) calls Kalve's collection Field of Red Clover an innovative and permanent landmark in Latvian prose. Kaldupe's protagonists are frequently misunderstood, lonely individualists; Juris Silenieks' review states that the young author is beginning to develop a unique, personal style and artistic perception. Gundars Pļavkalns (Australia) reviews poetry by Teodors Tomsons and the Soviet Latvian poet Jūlijs Kipers. Pļavkalns feels that Tomsons oscillates between robust realism and old-fashioned romanticism without synthesizing the two aspects; Kipers' work never transcends mediocrity and shallow sentimentality. Two recent Swedish works are also reviewed - Hans Björkegren's biography of Solzhenitsin and Per Egil Hegge's exposé of the less than admirable behavior of the Swedish embassy in Moscow regarding the presentation of Solzhenitsin's Nobel Prize. Gunars Grava sees the chief value of Hegge's book not in its sensational revelations, but in its depiction of the working conditions of Western journalists in Moscow. Finally, a somber warning note is struck by G.L's review of Johanness Angere's Finnish trilogy Kullankyla, which traces the brutal extinction of an indigenous people trapped between the ideological hatreds and border disputes of W.W. I.