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Four new English translations of Latvian poetry

2019, February 5

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Latvian poetry continues to reach a more global audience with yet four other poetry collections by Latvian authors translated into English and published in the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Krišjānis Zeļģis’ poetry collection “Beasts” (translated by Jayde Will and published by Parthian Books as part of the ‘Parthian Baltic’ project) explores the wild side of human behavior. It offers a perspective of an educated and curious city dweller who ventures out into the natural world. Poet’s writing focuses on the intriguing unpredictability of wild creatures to explore human nature, relationships, fear, and love. His poetry is dark, at times furious, often funny, capturing the entirety of the natural world in honest but delicate detail.

In contrast, Artis Ostups’ collection of poems “Gestures” (translated by Jayde Will, published by Ugly Duckling Presse) focuses on the urban space and cultural history connecting seemingly distinct elements. Some readers, who have had a chance to experience the originals of these ghostly constellations in Latvian, claim the poems to have cast a melancholic spell. Descriptions of landscapes and people offer no consolation, instead they function as darkened reflections of complex emotions, attempting to escape metaphysical abstractions.

Inga Pizāne captures a vibrant internal and external life that shifts seamlessly between the domestic landscape of a home and the streets in a city in “Having Never Met” (translated by Jayde Will, published by A Midsummer Night’s Press). In her poems that are spare and precise, Pizāne evokes saturated emotion, exploring the desire to connect in meaningful and physical ways. She discusses intimacy in the contemporary, technology-driven world. Through a powerful female voice, Pizāne outlines closely-observed portraits of the human condition.

Published by Arc Publications and translated by Kevin M. F. Platt (with Polina Barskova, Charles Bernstein, Julia Bloch, Daniil Cherkassky, Sarah Dowling, Natalia Fedorova, Eugene Ostashevsky, Karina Sotnik, Sasha Spektor, Anton Tenser, Maya Vinokour, Michael Wachtel, Matvei Yankelevich) “ORBITA The Project” is a bilingual volume that combines poetry, translation, imagery, web technologies, video and sound to offer a diverse introduction to Orbita’s vital and consistently innovative art. Using QR codes, readers can access more books, video poems and installation art made by Orbita and have a better insight into collective’s work.

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