July 24, on what would have been Jānis Baltvilks' (1944-2003) 72nd birthday, jury of the International Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks Prize announced the names of laureates for 2016. The special “Young Growth Prize” was awarded by the state company “Latvijas valsts meži” for début in children's literature and book art.
Jānis Baltvilks Prize in children's literature was awarded to Kārlis Vērdiņš for his book of poems "Tētis" [Daddy] (Liels un mazs, 2016). By putting the father in the centre of attention of family relationships, the variety of emotions and intonations, distinctly warm humour, irony and bizarre hyperboles, speak to readers of different age groups, including teenagers. The sense of truthfulness captivates and invites to feel and recognize the most important things in life – mutual love and trust.
Jānis Baltvilks Prize in book art this year was received by Anna Vaivare for illustrating Leons Briedis' book of poems “Saputrotā putra” [Forage for Porridge] (Liels un mazs, 2015), whose aesthetically unified composition allows for an impressive diversity of characters, moods and scenes, and represents values of different generations. The book was highlighted for its ability to deliver the philosophical message and express sentimental moments of childhood through wit, without harsh irony or criticism, still keeping its currentness and Latvianness.
The International Baltic Sea Region Jānis Baltvilks Prize was awarded to a Finnish poet Heli Laaksonen. Consequently, the prize for the highly professional translation of her book “Piec ait kalns” [Fiv Ewe Hill] (Liels un mazs, 2015) went to Guntars Godiņš who managed to translate the situations and dialogues wittingly depicted by Laaksonen in the South-West dialects of Finnish into Latvian mixed with the Liv dialect of the Vidzeme region.
The special “Young Growth Prize” for the best debut in children's literature went to Vivianna Maria Staņislavska for creating a masterful and modern design and illustrations for Ieva Samauska's poetry collection "Skaļā klase" [The Noisy Class] (Pētergailis, 2015). With the help of tasteful stylisation this book was able to include between its covers the stormy, informative and emotional school life in its entirety, communicating in a visual language understandable both to schoolchildren, and their teachers.
The winners received diplomas, statuettes designed by artist Inese Brants, EUR 1400 in prize money, as well as an invitation to live and work for a month in the Ventspils International Writers' and Translators' House covered by a creative grant. The laureate of the special “Young Growth Prize” received EUR 900 in prize money.
In the voting conducted by Delfi news portal, prize in the readers' favourite category was awarded by portal's editor in chief Ingus Bērzinš to Dāvis Ozols and Ruta Svaža for their project “Runča vakariņas” [Cat's Supper] published by Mansards.
The ceremony was hosted by actors Baiba Broka and Klāvs Mellis, and songs composed by Edgars Raginskis with Jānis Baltvilks' poetry, were performed by Madara Botmane, Arvīds Kazlausks and the composer himself.
This year, the books were judged by the president of IBBY Latvia, professor at the University of Latvia, Ilze Stikāne; researcher of children's literature and editor of the “With Children” section of the online magazine “Satori”, Dace Bargā; professor at the Art Academy of Latvia, artist Juris Petraškevičs; culture journalist Santa Remere; and two fathers of many – architect Uldis Lukševics, and journalist Ansis Bogustovs.