DRUSKININKAI POETIC FALL 1999
DPF 1999 took place from October 8 to October 10, 1999. About 120 participants gathered in Druskininkai. Guests from the United States were Craig Czury, James Hoch, Kerry Shawn Keys, and Sam Witt; from Norway Knut Odegard and Jostein Saeboe; from Denmark Mikkel Thykier and Marius Nodrup-Nielsen; from Latvia Janis Ramba, Jolanda Silanze, Ieva Melgalve, and Maris Salajs; from Poland Zbigniew Dominiak, Jagoda Rogorza, and Leszek Engelking; from Sweden Elisabeth Rynell and Gunilla Forsen; from Mexico Gerardo Beltran; from Russia Jurij Jefremov; from Italy Riccardo Duranti; from England Darius Victor Snieckus; and Lithuanian poets living in other lands Sigitas Birgelis, Kornelijus Jazbutis, Eglė Juodvalke, and Jonas Zdanys.
The Jotvingiai Prize was awarded to poetess Nijolė Miliauskaitė for her collection Labyrinth of the Soul (Vaga 1999). The DPF prize for the best poetic debut was awarded to Gintaras Bleizgys for his collection Locality. North. (Vaga 1998).
The festival began with the raising of the DPF flag; a salute by re-enlistee in the DPF army Ričardas Šileika, who was dressed in a military uniform of uncertain affiliation; and words of welcome in the auditorium from Druskininkai mayor Algimantas Maknys, the new Chairman of Lithuanian PEN Almantas Samalavičius, and Dainava Centre Director Zenonas Streikus. Discussion of the theme "Poetic Text: Mask and Role" began immediately afterward. It was led by Bronys Savukynas and Marius Šidlauskas; discussion participants included Vytautas P. Bložė, Gražina Cieškaitė, Evaldas Čiuldė, Erika Drungytė, Sigitas Geda, Kornelijus Platelis, and Almantas Samalavičius.
The first evening of poetry was led by Birutė Marcinkevičiūtė and Mindaugas Kvietkauskas. Poets reading that evening were Gerardo Beltran, Eugenijus Ališanka, Sam Witt, Mikkel Thykier, Patricija Šmitaitė, Sigitas Birgelis, Elisabeth Rynell, Jolanda Silanže, Riccardo Duranti, Danguolė Juzeliunaitė, Maris Salajs, and Donaldas Kajokas.
The night readings of poetry were, as always, turbulent. They were led by Benediktas Januševičius. About twenty poets, not only Lithuanians, read from their poetry. Their work was intently evaluated by a panel of judges (Bronys Savukynas, Janina Riškutė, Almantas Samalavičius, Valentinas Sventickas, Marius Šidlauskas), which awarded prizes to Laurynas Katkus, Tomas S. Butkus, Erika Drungytė, and Vita Tunaitytė.
Saturday morning was devoted to the "Renga" session a collective act of creation in which seventeen Lithuanian poets and poets from abroad participated. Everything unfolded according to Japanese tradition, although the syllabic count within lines was not firmly sustained. The shared fruit of creation was read by the poets during the formal closing evening of poetry.
Collections of poetry published by Lithuanian publishers during the year were presented at the traditional book hour, first among them the almanac Druskininkai Poetic Fall 1990-1999 (Vaga 1999) which was compiled and edited by Laurynas Katkus, Gintaras Bleizgys, and Ričardas Šileika. It is quite informative, nicely reflecting the history and the spirit of the first nine Falls. Another engaging work the prestigious Spanish literary journal Revistatlantica, in which a substantial sheaf of works by Lithuanian poets was published thanks to translator Gerardo Beltran's efforts. The largest number of poetry books during the year was published by Vaga, which surpassed the Lithuanian Writers' Union Publishing House. Authors whose books were presented read from their works.
Because the DPF's theme was linked to masks and roles, theatrical art was part of this Fall. Saturday's 16:30 event was called "Poetic Performance" and consisted of two parts. In the first, led by Ričardas Šileika, several actor-poets read, danced or expressed themselves in other ways: Daiva ČepkauskaitĖ, Birutė Marcinkevičiūtė, Alvydas Šlepikas, Erika Drungytė, Craig Czury (he also presented his poetry fusion, created in a seminar with Druskininkai students), and Marius Nodrup-Nielsen. In the second, the Gliukų Theatre of Klaipeda (Benas Šarka, Rita Rimkutė) performed "Keafri," which was based on a text by Gintaras Grajauskas.
The formal final evening of poetry was led by Sigitas Geda and Liudvikas Jakimavičius. First, the Jotvingiai Prize was awarded to Nijolė Milkiauskaitė, and Gintaras Bleizgys was awarded the prize for the best debut. Both laureates read from their works. Following those presentations, a panel of judges announced the long-awaited results of the Fall's competitions. The panel decided to award five prizes in the anonymous poem competition, because this year the translators of our guests' poetry were also encouraged to participate. The following prizes were awarded: (1) Kornelijus Platelis for "St. Elizabeth's Hospital"; (2) Kerry Shawn Keys V.P. Bložė for "Chandelier"; (3) Rimvydas Stankevičius for "About Sight"; (4) Alvydas Valenta for "Journey"; and (5) Liudvikas Jakimavičius for "The Small Black Lizard on the Shore's Hot Rocks". For the competition of signed poems best expressing the linkage of fall and poetry, the following prizes were awarded: (1) Leszek Engelking for "Three Stylistic Exercises on the Theme of Autumn" (translated by K. Platelis); (2) Kerry Shawn Keys for "Along the Shore" (translated by V.P. Bložė); and (3) Gintaras Grajauskas for "DPF Blues". All winners read their works.
On the occasion of the tenth DPF, it was decided to select the ten best books of poetry published during the decade. Most of the festivals participants voted. Liutaras Degėsys, who chaired the election commission, announced the results: (1) Donaldas Kajokas Meditations; (2) Sigitas Parulskis The Dead's; (3) Vytautas P. Bložė Autumn; (4) Kornelijus Platelis Orations to the River; (5) Sigitas Geda Restoration of Babylon; (6) Nijolė Miliauskaitė A Room Forbidden to Enter; (7) Sigitas Geda A Chest to Capture Spirits; (8) Antanas A. Jonynas Night Train; (9) Antanas A. Jonynas Cataract Beneath the Ice; (10) Aidas Marčėnas and Sigitas Parulskis 50+50.
The following poets read from their work during the final formal evening of poetry: Jonas Zdanys, Knut Odegard, James Hoch, Janis Ramba, Darius Victor Snieckus, Ieva Melgalve, Gintaras Grajauskas, and Ričardas Šileika. At the end of the evening, the "Renga" session collective work was also presented.
The night readings in the Dainava restaurant as always were professionally led by Alvydas Šlepikas. The readings began with an impressive poetic polylogue by four men wearing masks. They turned out to be Gerardo Beltran, Sigitas Geda, Kerry Shawn Keys, and Mindaugas Kvietkauskas. A competition for the most sincere poem, "Be Off, Masks and Roles," also took place. First place was taken by Jurgis Kunčinas, and prizes were awarded to Liudvikas Jakimavičius and Kornelijus Jazbutis. The panel's attention was not won over by Minister of Culture Arūnas Bėkšta, who read a poem by K. Platelis, nor by Tomas S. Butkus, who read a poem from under a pot, nor by other pretenders to the laureate. Outbreaks of sincerity were ever more muffled by the blues and by dancing. The evening ended the next morning.
The trip back to Vilnius began at about midday on Sunday. On the way, the bus turned into Grutas Park of Soviet Monuments, whose idols appear to have impressed some poets. It seems some idolatry still exist among us.
Monday evening, for the second year in a row, the DPF concluded at the Uzupis Café in Vilnius. Those readings were enjoyed as much by our guests from abroad as by our poets, so we will include them in the DPF program from now on. Readers were E. Ališanka, C. Czury, L. Degėsys, R. Duranti, L. Jakimavičius, B. Januševičius, A.A. Jonynas, L. Katkus, K.S. Keys. M. Kvietkauskas, B. Marcinkevičiūtė, K. Odegard, K. Platelis, A. Šlepikas, A. Valionis, S. Witt, and J. Zdanys. The poetic merrymaking ended with arm-wrestling, in which, as in the writing of poetry, as many women as men participated. Among the Lithuanians, Liudvikas Jakimavičius made the best showing, successfully challenging Craig Czury, but neither one won. Sport turned out to be the champion.
Translated by Jonas Zdanys
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