See J.C. Todd's riverviews on Lithuanian poetry.

Also see the Commentary upon Lithuanian poetry by the poets themselves.

For J.C.'s other columns on Lithuania:

Lilacs and a Resinous Will: Poetry Spring in Lithuania

International Poetry Festival

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For an essay A Nation Sings Out

To visit the Anelauskas website with important essays on Lithuanian poetry, including:

About Modern Lithuanian Poetry

Maironis

Lithuanian Diaspora



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Photo of Craig Czury used by permission of Craig Czury. All rights reserved.

Photo of J.C. Todd by Joanna Lightner. All rights reserved.

All others photos used by permission of J.C. Todd. All rights reserved.

Poetry from Lithuania-Winter 2002


Selected by J.C. Todd J.C. Todd



Poets



Neringa Abrutyte Neringa Abrutyte was born in 1972 in Nida, Lithuania. She has studied Lithuanian language and literature at the University of Vilnius and published 2 poetry books whose titles in English are Autumn of Paradise (Rojaus ruduo, 1995) and A confession (Is pazinties, 1997). Her third book, Neringa's l is forthcoming from Neringos.m press. She has appeared in poetry festivals in Lithuania and throughout Europe.


Eugenijus Alisanak Eugenijus Alisanka was born in Barnaul, Russia, 1960. He has published three collections of poems: Ligiadienis (Equinox), 1992, awarded the best debut of the year prize, Peleno miestas (City of Ash), 1995, also published in English, translator H. L. Hix, by the Northwestern University Press in 2000, and Godbone, 1999. He is also the author of two books of essays An Imagining Man, 1998 and Return of Dionysus, 2001. He has translated a number of contemporary poets including Szymorska, Carolyn Forché, Dannie Abse, and Jerome Rothenberg and has translated three poetry books into Lithuanian: Kerry Shaw Keys, 1999; Zbigniew Herbert, 2001; Ales Debeljak, 2001. He has been editor of Citizens, an almanac on culture and literature, in 1991, 1995 and 1999 and a fellow of the International Writing Program in Iowa in 1995 and of the literary project “Literary Express Europe 2000”. Currently he is a director of international programs at the Lithuanian Writers' Union in Vilnius and secretary general of the Lithuanian PEN Center.

Vytautus P. Bloze Vytautus P. Bloze was born in Baisogala, a northern village, in 1930, the son of well-to-do landowners. He underwent an exacerbated adolescence during the prolonged eclipse of Nazi occupation and Stalinist terror. He saw his father first condemned to death, then sentenced to Siberia for aiding the local resistance. By 1953, both his parents and a sister had died in Siberian exile. Bloze himself only survived by hiding out for a time. Suppressing his family identity, he managed to get work as a literary editor and enrolled at the Vilnius Teachers' Institute. In the late 1960's and throughout the 1970's, he suffered an enforced psychiatric hospitalization, marked, as he notes, by deliberate “misdiagnoses and mistreatments.” In 1972 his work was banned as “anti-revolutionary.” Bloze hid it to avoid its confiscation. What has been recovered has appeared since 1982 in thirteen collections and, translated into English by Jonas Zdanys, in Four Lithuanian Poets. Honors include the Lithuanian National Prize for Nocturnes in 1991, the first National Prize awarded after Lithuanian Independence, and a Poetry Spring Laureate. He is also noted as a translator of Pushkin, Schiller, Shakespeare, Rilke, Vallejo and Cavafy. (Note adapted from Vyt Bakaitis, Breathing Free, Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers Union, 2001 and from Laima Sruoginis, Lithuania: In Her Own Words, Vilnius: Tyto Alba, 1997.)

Marius Burokas Marius Burokas is a poet and translator whose first collection of poetry, Ideograms (1999) was published in Vilnius; a second collection, Planning a Murder is forthcoming. His poems have appeared in Lithuanian, Finnish, and Russian Journals. In 2001, he was a fellow at the Iowa International Writing Program. He is a project manager and editor in Lithuania's largest public relations company, Viesuju Ryiu Partneriai, while he completes graduate studies in Lithuanian literature at Vilnius University.



Sigitas Geda Sigitas Geda was born in 1943 in Pateriai, Lithuania. He is a poet and leading intellectual with more than twenty books, including literature for children, essays, reviews and translations. He translated The Book of Psalms and, most recently, The Works of Francois Villon and Edgar Lee Master's A Spoon River Anthology. He has edited and compiled the first complete selection of Rilke's work in Lithuanian and has done the same with Lithuanian poetry on the Holocaust. He is perhaps the most important and respected writer in Lithuania today, with a lyrical voice and a post-modern aesthetic that proves historical and metaphysical themes and the natural world with incredible insight and energy. Widely regarded as an innovative poet, he merges a pantheistic voice with a post-modern aesthetic. One of the leading intellectuals, he was involved with the Lithuanian reform movement, “Sajudis.” A Selected Poems has recently appeared in Germany and Sweden, and an edition will be forthcoming in English. Honors include the Poetry Spring Laureate and other awards. He participated in the Commentary on Lithuanian poetry in this issue. (Note adapted from Laima Sruoginis, Lithuania: In Her Own Words, Vilnius: Tyto Alba, 1997.)

Antanas A. Jonynas Antanas A. Jonynas A native of Lithuanian's capital Vilnius, Anatanas A. Jonynas was born in 1953, came of age and grew into poetry while the Soviet state was in its decline there. Although many could read the signs, few could dispatch such ingeniously succinct appraisals of the actual state of affairs, nor render it from such precisely splenetic reserves. Jonynas has any number of caustically elegant love poems to his credit, and is noted for the formal dexterity of his verse, which is munificently evident in both parts of the highly resolved version of Goethe's Faust he recently published. Note adapted from Vyt Bakaitis, Breathing Free, Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers Union, 2001.)

Laurynas Katkus Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1972, Katkus studied Lithuanian and Comparative Literature in Vilnius and Leipzig. He worked in agriculture and as an interpreter, radio journalist and editor. In 1998 his collection of poems Balsai, ra teliai (Voices, Notes) was published. A second book, Nardymo pamokos (Diving lessons) is due to appear in 2002. His poems have been translated into English, German, Polish, Latvian and Belorussian. His translations into Lithuanian of R.M. Rilke, Gottfried Benn, e e cummings, Jerome Rothenberg, Susan Sontag and others have appeared in the press and as separate books. Currently Laurynas Katkus lives in Berlin. He participated in the Commentary on Lithuanian poetry in this issue.

Giedre Kazlauskaite Giedre Kazlauskaite was born in Vilkaviskis, Lithuania, in 1980. As a youth, she studied art in Vilnius at the M. K. Ciurlionis National School of Art (1991 - 1995). She is currently attending Vilnius University studying Lithuanian philology. Her honors include the 2000 Poetry Spring prize for the best debut in poetry and publication of her first novel, Farewell, School in 2001. She participated in the Commentary on Lithuanian poetry in this issue.



Nijole Miliauskaite Nijole Miliauskaite was born in Keturvalakiai, Lithuania in 1950. Recipient of the 1996 Writer's Union Prize, as well as a number of other Lithuanian and international literary prizes, Miliauskaite is regarded as one of Lithuania's most subtle poets. She is the author of four books of poetry, all published in Lithuania. For the past twenty-five years she has devoted herself to her writing and to aiding her husband, the poet Vytautas Bloze, prepare his many manuscripts. She has a degree in Lithuanian literature from Vilnius University. Her poems appear in Lithuania: In Her Own Words, translated by Laima Sruoginis. She draws her poetic voice from a mixture of ritualized everyday routine that includes everything from tending her garden and collecting medicinal herbs to marketing and her personal spiritual practice that is a combination of meditation, yoga practice, Lithuanian pre-Christian tradition and Catholicism. She and her husband live in the town of Druskininkai. (Note adapted from Laima Sruoginis, Lithuania: In Her Own Words, Vilnius: Tyto Alba, 1997.)

Mindaugas Kvietkauskas
Mindaugas Kvietkauskas was born in 1976 in Panevezys, Lithuania. Kvietkauskas studied Lithuanian literature at Vilnius University and the Cultural History of Middle and Eastern Europe at the universities of Warsaw and Cracow and is currently working on postgraduate studies at Vilnius University (comparative studies of Lithuanian, Polish, Belarus and Yiddish literature). His first book of poetry “Rabi” was published in 1998. He is also a literary critic and an essayist and an editor of the Lithuanian literary monthly “Metai.” He is represented by an article in the Commentary on Lithuanian poetry.

Kornelijus Platelis Kornelijus Platelis, born in Siauliai, Lithuania, in 1951 came into poetry while stationed in Afghanistan as an engineer in the Soviet army. He has authored a seminal essay on the ecology of culture, “Being by the Nemunas,” and six collections of poetry, of which one, Snare for the Wind has also been published in English with Jonas Zdanys as translator. Zdanys' translations of Platelis are also included in Four Lithuanian Poets. Platelis has translated poems by Heaney, Pound, Hughes, Shelley, Keats and Symborska and hymns from the Rigveda. Formerly the Minister of Education and Sciences and a Deputy Minister of Culture and Education for Lithuania, and a President of Lithuanian PEN Centre, he has directed VAGA, the major literary publisher, and currently is editor-in-chief of the literary weekly Literatura ir menas (Literature & Art). His honors include the Jotvingiai Prize and the Poetry Spring Laureate. He participated in the Commentary on Lithuanian poetry in this issue.

Arturas Valionis Arturas Valionis(b. Druskininkai, Lithuania, 1973), has published widely in the major literary and art magazines and poetry anthologies in Lithuania. His first volume of poetry, In Those Beautiful Years of Great Disappointments, is forthcoming in Lithuanian. He has an MA in Society and Politics and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Warsaw University, and was a visiting scholar at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1995. Awards include the best debut in the 1995 Poetry Spring anthology.

Translators



Vyt Bakaitis Vyt Bakaitis has published a book of poems City Country ( New York: Black Thistle Press), a book of visual poems and photographs con/structs ( NY: Arunas K. Photo + Graphics), and a generous selection of his translations from Lithuanian poetry, largely from the past century, Breathing Free ( Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers Union). He lives in Brooklyn. His work is available online at www.efn.org. In this issue, he translated the untitled poem and “The Three Wrights” by Vytautas P. Bloze and work by Antanas A. Jonynas.



Craig Czury Craig Czury is the author of several small press collections of poetry, most recently, Closing Out, and a Russian/English edition of Parallel Rivertime. He has also edited an anthology of prison poets, Fine Line that Screams from his Northeast Pennsylvania Prison Poetry. In Lithuania his poems have been anthologized in Poezijos Pavasaris '99, and published widely in 7 Dienos Menos and Literatura ir Menas, with interviews appearing in Kulturos Barai and Respublica national newspaper. A selected volume of Czury's poems in Lithuanian is published by Vario Burnos, 2001. Craig's website is www.poet-in-education.com. In this issue he has translated Arturas Valionis.

Shawn Kerry KeysKerry Shawn Keys comes from the Susquehanna Valley of Central Pennsylvania in the United States. He lives in Vilnius, Lithuania where he taught translation theory and creative composition from 1998 to 2000 as a Fulbright lecturer at Vilnius University. He currently freelances as a poet, translator, and cultural liaison. He has over 30 books to his credit, including translations from Portuguese and Lithuanian, and his own poems rooted in the Appalachia hill country, and in Brazil and India where he lived for considerable time. His work ranges from theatre-dance pieces to flamenco songs to the Tao Te Ching to lyrical and intense ontological concerns. He received the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1992. Selected poems have appeared in Czech and Lithuanian. In this issue, he has translated the works Marius Burokas, Laurynas Katkus, Kornelijus Platelis, Eugenijus Alisanka and co-translated Sigitas Geda.

Judita Glauberson A Lithuanian translator and interpreter, Judita Glauberson has translated poems by Sigitas Geda and Laurynas Katkus and the screen script of the Lithuanian film BLINDA by Deima Kelias and Karolis Jankus into English. Her translations into Lithuanian include poems by Jerome Rothenberg, the radio play The Jericho Players by Bernard Kops and sections of the Encyclopaedia of Mythology (GAMTA, 1999). She has a BA in English Philology from Vilnius University. She also translates for the Chief Rabbi of Lithuania. She has co-translated Sigitas Geda.

Edgaras Platelis Edgaras Platelis has co-translated into English the poems of Sigitas Geda and into Lithuanian the Tim Severin novel The Syndbad's Voyage (Vilnius, VAGA, 1999). Son of poet Kornelijus Platelis, he has a Masters in World Literature from Vilnius University. He has co-translated Sigitas Geda.




Laima Sruoginis, a poet and translator, has published an anthology of Lithuanian poetry in translation, Lithuania: In Her Own Words (Tyto Alba, Vilnius, 1997), and her own poetry and essays in journals such as Modern Poetry in Translation, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Artful Dodger and others. She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, two New York State Poetry Fellowships, a Yeats Fellowship and a Literary Translator's Award from the Lithuanian Poetry Spring Festival Committee. A Fulbright Lecturer at Vilnius University in 1997, presently she is an assistant professor of English at the University of Southern Maine. Born in the United States, she studied at the Lithuanian Gymnasium in Lampertheim, Germany, and at Vilnius University, where she also was a volunteer translator and interpretor for “Sajudis,” the Lithuanian grassroot resistance movement. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Her work is available online at www.efn.org. She translated Nijole Miliauskaite and her essay The Nation Sings on Lithuania poetry is included in this issue.

J.C. ToddJ.C. Todd has authored two chapbooks of poems, Nightshade (2000, 1995), and Entering Pisces (1985), both published by Pine Press. Nightshade, a finalist in the Flume Press chapbook contest, is distributed by Spring Church Books. Her poems have appeared in such literary journals as The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review and Beloit Poetry Journal and her translations of poems by the Ecuadorean writer Ivón Gordon Vailakis in Crab Orchard Review. She wrote the entries on Lucille Clifton and Etheridge Knight for The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry in English. She has received a 2001 Leeway Award for Poetry, a Fellowship in Poetry, and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts as well as four Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry. She has been a fellow in poetry at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center. Recipient of a New Jersey Governor's Award for Arts Education and a Distinguished Teaching Artist award for poetry workshops offered through the New Jersey Writers' Project, she also teaches in the Writing for College program at Bryn Mawr College and the poetry program of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. She is a graduate of the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is a Contributing Editor for The Drunken Boat. She edited this feature of Lithuanian poetry and translated the work of Giedre Kazlauskaite.

Egle Verseckaite has translated the poetry of Neringa Abrutyte in this issue.

Jonas Zdanys Jonas Zdanys born in the U.S. a few months after his parents immigrated from a United Nations camp for Lithuanian refugees, is an award-winning poet and a leading Lithuanian-American translator. He is the author of more than twenty books, including collections of his own poetry and translations of work by modern Lithuanian poets and prose writers. His work has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Yale University Center for International and Area Studies, and the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and Education. Formerly an Associate Dean at Yale University and a professor at the State University of New York, currently he is Chief Academic Officer in the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. His work is available online at www.efn.org. In this issue he translated "St. Elizabeth's Hospital" by Kornelijus Platelis and "Musa Domestica" by Vytautas P. Bloze.

Sam Witt and Clay Witt Sam Witt authored two collections of poetry, Everlasting Quail (University Press of New England, 2001) and Black Flames (TRS, 1997). His poems have appeared in Fence,Salon and other journals. Honors include a first place in the New Millenium awards and a Bread Loaf Conference Award for poetry. A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, this year he is a visiting writer at Boise State University. His brother Clay co-translated “The Kiss” by Arturas Valionis.