Unique collection of Livonian Poetry "Trillium" has been published

2018, March 13

Unique collection of Livonian Poetry "Trillium" has been published

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A bilingual collection of poetry "Trillium" by poets Baiba Damberga, Valts Ernštreits and Ķempju Kārlis has just been published in Livonian and English. It is the first contemporary Livonian collection of its kind, and its three authors are arguably the only poets in the world writing in Livonian.

"Trillium" marks 155 years in Livonian book publishing – from the first books in Livonian (the Gospel of Matthew in Eastern and Western Livonian dialects) published in 1863 in London until the publishing of this Livonian book of poetry in Riga, to be presented to the readers in the London Book Fair 2018, at the international Baltic book exhibition.

The collection was published by the International Livonian Friends' Society and the Livonian Culture Centre, edited by Valts Ernštreits, and designed by Zane Ernštreite. The poems were translated into English by Uldis Balodis and Rian van Winkle. The publishing of "Trillium" was supported by the "Latvian Literature" platform, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia and the Latvian Writers’ Union.

The three authors of this collection share a Finno-Ugric ethnicity and language, however, their worldviews differ greatly. Graphic designer Baiba Damberga, is a visual artist and uses colour to build structures which reflect spiritual light (Ku vaimli val min palgõ sūdlõb/When holy light kisses my crown), structures where salt lake, once called out by name, slushes down along with herrings and lindens (kõrd vȯļ minā touvõs sūoljōraks/once I was a salt lake coy in the clouds). Linguist Ķempju Kārlis, the only person writing in the Livonian dialect of Salaca region, now considered an extinct language, pays great attention to the fleeting sound of ancient and new words and their philosophical significance in the lives of an individual and folk – when the word windows slam shut (Synad lȁbud/Word Windows), the gate of silence opens (Vaga vȁrded ķȁubed/The gate of silence opens). Linguist Valts Ernštreits offers a rhythm of a much more speedy and impetuous nature – his poems will give you airplanes, trams, tanks and submarines; and a white crochet tablecloth of memories (Trilium/Trillium); and a dream where a sky-blue boat is swaying amidst a golden sea (Älloul/Lullaby).