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Seven More Translations of Latvian Poetry Published Abroad

2020, June 19

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Last year, besides the works we have already written about, seven more translations of books of Latvian poetry were published abroad. Poems of our contemporary authors and classical poets are now available also in Ukrainian, Spanish, Polish, Catalan, French, English, and Bulgarian.

Ingmāra Balode’s second book of poems “alba” (“aльба”), first published in Latvia back in 2012, has been published in the Ukraine. The work was translated into Ukrainian by Māris Salējs and Jury Zavadsky (Юрій Завадський) and published by “Krok”. “Balode’s “alba” resonates through thousands of tiny objects, warmed up by sunlight and love. Using mundane things, fleeting epiphanies and phrases from beloved poets’ she builds a portrait of a young woman — airy yet deep; one who travels the world, yet always comes home; loves books and art, yet finds common language with any senior or child,” writes critic Jānis Ozoliņš.

Inga Gaile’s selection of poems “30 Questions People Don't Ask” (“30 cosas que la gente jamás se pregunta”) has been published in Spanish by “Cazador de Ratas Editorial” translated by Lawrence Schimel. The book was first published in English by “Pleiades Press” in the US. Gaile’s sixth and most recent collection “Lieldienas” (“Easter”), originally issued in Latvia in 2018 by “Neputns”, is now available to the readers in Poland with the title “Wielkanoc”. The book was published by “Instytut Kultury Miejskiej” publishing house and translated by Agnieszka Smarzewska. “What I admire the most is Gaile’s ability to precisely capture such a modern kind of woman – highly sensitive, eternally self-flagellating, self-seeing and self-reflective, obsessed with love, crying, brave, and direct. The line between drama and comedy in Gaile’s works is very vague,” literary critic Anda Baklāne describes the collection.

Krišjānis Zeļģis’ third collection of poems “Zvēri” (Beasts), originally published in Latvia by   “Neputns” in 2016, has been published in Catalan as “Bèsties”. The collection was translated into Catalan by Xevi Pujol Molist and published by “Curbet Edicions”. In “Beasts”, Zeļģis assumes the role of a curious city-dweller, who, while questioning his relationship with the natural world, realises not only the animals covered in fur and feathers display wild, instinctive and unpredictable behaviour.

A selection of Imants Ziedonis’ poems “Même cette petite étoile” has been translated by Anita Kļaviņš and Denis Wetterwald into French and published by “Editions du Cygne”. Ziedonis is one of the most prominent poets to come from Latvia. He was a well known publicist, an author of short stories and film scenarios, an active cultural worker and public figure. He is recognized for both his literary works and his extraordinary and powerful personality. His creative work, expressions, lifestyle, and ideas expressed still resonate with great interest in a vast part of modern society.

Ziedonis’ contemporary Ojārs Vācietis’ collection “Venēras rokas” (“Arms of Venus”) has been published in Bulgarian as “Ръцете на Венера”, translated by Zdravko Kisyov and printed by “Ergo” publishing house. Vācietis’ poetry is characterised by poetical directness, intensity and lyricism, accompanied by grotesque portrayals of social life. Meanwhile, a collection of another Latvian classical writer, Aleksandrs Čaks’ “Selected Poems”, has been translated by Ieva Lešinska into English and published by “Shearsman Books”. Aleksandrs Čaks is considered a pioneer when it comes to urban themes in Latvian poetry, and till this day is regarded as an irreplaceable figure in Latvian literature. This volume is the most comprehensive translation of Čaks' work yet to appear in English, and the first to be published in the UK.

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