I’m not building a home, or leading the nation
Just sitting here under branches of white acacia…
Henrikas Radauskas, 1962*
The Press Restoration, Language and Book Day is very important for Lithuania as it reminds us of the year 1864 where the Lithuanian language as well as book and press publishing were banned. However, the ban period of 40 years proved that the Lithuanian language is alive as Lithuanian books were published and distributed secretly. It is during the ban period that the literacy of people increased.
Therefore, it is not surprising that not only writers and poets, but also various literary organisations celebrate this day. Numerous events, literary readings and meetings with readers take place throughout Lithuania on this day.
It is for the second year that the residents of Vilnius found short texts on the pavement in various places on the 7th of May, namely lines of poems and quotations that are important for Vilnius and the whole Lithuania. It is the second part of the Skaitome Vilnių (We Read Vilnius) project (#skaitomevilniu).
The texts selected are written by people inseparable from the history of Lithuania which have left significant traces in our life and still continue to do so. Some of these texts are important for the history of Vilnius as Vilnius still speaks through the lips and languages of these people. This year, words are written on the pavement in various places said by the most outstanding personalities, namely writers, poets, public figures, scientists and intellectuals, i. e. Grand Duke Gediminas, President Antanas Smetona, Sofija Kymantaitė Čiurlionienė, Jurgis Kunčinas, Tomas Venclova, Vincas Kudirka, Judita Vaičiūnaitė, Ona Šimaitė, Algirdas Julius Greimas, Sigitas Geda and Kazys Bradūnas.
The Lietuva Skaito (Lithuania is Reading) initiative is being organised for the third time. A website has been developed where one can find poetry, prose and drama written by the young Lithuanian authors. The readings by the young authors have been organised in various places and they were also read by the poets of Versopolis, namely Ramunė Brundzaitė, Aušra Kaziliūnaitė, Mindaugas Nastaravičius, Indrė Valantinaitė, Vytautas Stankus and Aivaras Veiknys. The Lietuvos Šimtmečio Knygos Vaikams (Lithuanian Children Books of the Century) project has been organised in Martynas Mažvdas National Library of Lithuania. The most significant books were selected by sixteen specialists of children’s literature as well as the whole community of readers.
A perfect news was announced this week by one of the Versopolis poets, namely Gytis Norvilas: his new book titled Grimzdimas (The Sinking) was presented to the public in the Mint Vinetu bookshop. Versopolis poet Aušra Kaziliūnaitė had readings in London bookstore Libreria.
What a great week!
* Henrikas Radauskas (1910 – 1970) was a Lithuanian poet and writer. Radauskas emigrated to the United States in 1949. During his last years, he worked for the Library of Congress. Translated by Vyt Bakaitis.