Lithuanian poetry after the 1990 Independence has further broken with traditional, conventional literary forms of the past. Alternative voices have risen, no longer suppressed by either Soviet censorship or the literary sensibilities of the older generation. New poets “turned away from the agricultural worldview nourished by myth and folktale,” and focused instead on “eerie urban spaces”; on subjective, personal experiences; on the experimental rather than the epic. No longer did they see the poet as “leader of the nation,” but as an “apolitical loner” with his or her own story to tell.
One such storyteller is Giedrė Kazlauskaitė. Her 2014 collection, Meninos, is defiantly
experimental and personal, its structure inspired by an anonymous Internet commenter who called Kazlauskaitė infantile. The collection focuses on the poet’s childhood memories, her impressions of modern life, and her present-day personal experiences.
Like Judita Vaičiūnaitė before her, Kazlauskaitė (b. 1980) has also written feminist poetry, focusing on the independent woman, the lesbian, the mother, the artist. Her first collection, Heterų dainos (The Songs of Hetaeras), is named for the ancient Greek courtesans who provided witty and educated conversation in addition to…other services.
So far, this poem from Heterų dainos is one of my favorites:
Let’s Strew the Streets
Let’s strew the streets with flower petals
you white bridal girls
the Easter of brides is here.
Cars and buses and trucks
even little horses with carriages
carousel elephants and kids with bikes –
we hurl flowers in their faces.
Girls love girls
in the small town streets
they kiss, run away from the procession
then kiss again in the doorway of the church.
Tomorrow they’ll die
leafed through and written off.
Tomorrow I’ll die
of reading and writing.
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Kristijonas Donelaitis. “Metai – The Seasons.” Lituanus: Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences. Vol. 10, No. 1. Spring 1964. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Ona Mikaila. “Maironis: the Poet Who Never Died.” Lituanus: Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences. Vol. 48, No. 3. Fall 2002. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Maironis. “News Has Come.” All Poetry. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Maironis. “Jurate and Kastytis.” All Poetry. Accessed 9 April 2018.
“Nėris Salomėja.” Tekstai – šiuolaikinės lietuvių literatūros antologija. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Viktoras Alekna. “Apie S. Nėries gyvenimo vingius ir jos gyvenimo meiles.” Rašyk.lt. Accessed 10 April 2018.
“Salomėja Nėris.” Wikipedia. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Salomėja Nėris. “Blue Sister, River Vilija.” PoemHunter.com. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Ilona Gražytė-Maziliauskienė. “Myth as Mirror of the Self: The Poetry of Judita Vaičiūnaitė.” Lituanus: Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences. Vol. 36, No. 4. Winter 1990. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Judita Vaičiūnaitė. “On This Transparent Evening.” All Poetry. Accessed 9 April 2018.
Virginija Cibarauskė. “Contemporary Lithuanian Poetry: Naive Wisdom, Confessions, Public Criticism, and the Beasts of the Subconscious.” Vilnius Review: The Online Magazine for Lithuanian Literature. 3 June 2016. Accessed 9 April 2018.
“Giedrė Kazlauskaitė. Eilėraščiai iš rinkinio „Meninos“ (2014).” Tekstai – šiuolaikinės lietuvių literatūros antologija. Accessed 9 April 2018.
James Grout. “Hetaira.” Encyclopaedia Romana. Accessed 10 April 2018.
Giedrė Kazlauskaitė. “Let’s Strew the Streets.” Versopolis: European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture. Accessed 9 April 2018.