Indrė Valantinaitė

- Lithuania -

Indrė Valantinaitė (b. 1984, in Kaunas) is a Lithuanian poet. After graduating from a Jesuit gymnasium, she studied arts management at Vilnius University and at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. She published her poems in many periodicals, and printed her first book in 2006. Her first book, "Of Fish and Lilies" earned her the first prize in the poetry category of the 2006 First Book Contest of the Lithuanian Union of Writers. Her second book “Tales about Love and Other Animals” (2011) has won the Young Yotvingian Prize in 2012. In addition to writing poems, Indrė is a singer, a winner of several singing festivals and also she is a TV journalist and producer.

It is a common belief that the vanguard movement should be associated with the birth of a new art which not only encompasses the breach of rules of art institutions, but also includes one’s lifestyle and the need to establish a close link with life emerges from vanguard. Of course, the attribution of Indrė Valantinaitė’s poetry to vanguard art would sound strange. The author by no means seeks to “blow up the world from its foundations”, declare manifests of creation, join groups and get involved in breaking programme traditions. Still, her poetry is, first of all, closely related with the lifestyle and appearance which extends the aesthetics of poetry towards the real-life level.

Valantinaitė is recognised outside closed poetry societies in Lithuania too as she is often filmed, she participates in music projects, women’s magazines publish her interviews on style and fashion and she visits parties of celebrities as well. All these experiences are often reflected in her poetry where the poet is scrupulously fixing her feelings and situations; for instance, she writes in one of her newest poemsLaisvės Alėja: In the old town, in a house / were my grandma lived and my father was born between the wars / under the attic where they starved / a fashionable restaurant has been started. / I find myself in its opening, eating, / with a bit of sophisticated dish in my mouth / and a sense of strange guilt in my stomach, / only the ceiling separates me from the space / where they have left a note. / I bring the glass to the lips by my hand ringed / and celebrate life / for both of us.

The author’s self-reflection, the motifs of bodiness and eroticism have been revealed most vividly in her book “Žuvimi ir lelijomis” (By Fish and Lilies). Literary Critic Eugenija Vaitkevičiūtė has described the book ingenuously: “The areas of woman’s nature, modern social anxiety, graceful a slightly slowish femme fatale romance, immediate jumps to physiological peculiarities as the author does not avoid experiments and connections between subtlety and more vivid and dramatic language. Poem “Angels Also” could be attributed to such poems in the context of the whole book: Angels also masturbate sometimes / When they mould forming teenage breasts. / While maidens are dreaming of the mouths of their future lovers / And of babies / Who will mouth up their towers. / And the lakes between their legs have names already.

Five years later the second book of the author titled “Pasaka apie meilę ir kitus žvėris” (A Tale of Love and Other Animals) was born. The author on its title: “because I often referred to my woks as rhymed tales for adults”. Her poetic world is remarkable for its fairylike aesthetics in terms of sleeping nymphs, apple orchards, halls, crowns and people turned into animals. Even daily situations turn into fairylike experiences: A colleague shakes the ashes, gently, / the brunette will turn back into a blonde today / I try to imagine which colour would suit her little head better / as it rolls on the mosaic floor of the King’s hall / Like an apple which accidently slipped out of the hands / of a ham-fisted surfeited child playing.

As Literary Critic Virginija Cibarauskė addresses texts of the young poets from the semiotic perspective, she notices that “Valantinaitė’s poetry is a high-quality product of popular culture which can be consumed in two ways: the reader may either identify himself/herself with the lyrical subject or desire her, admire her helplessness and fragility”. Moreover, Valantinaitė speaks, bravely and sometimes with flirtatious seduction, about her experiences and woman nature (which is, as I have mentioned, inseparable from manifestation in real life), and separate picturesque poems emerge that remind of film narrative, as the poet claims: “I have always said that a poem is successful if the one who reads it sees a film in a way. Moreover, I believe that films and poems have one more thing in common, namely: a film may often encompass the life of more than one generation and it compresses entire epochs into two hours, while poets seek to find room for the whole world in a few words”.

Valantinaitė often participates in poetry events, she is a member of the Lithuanian Writers’ Association and her relationship with other representatives of the literary field is full of respect as the poet has never criticised works by her colleagues in public and she has never entered literary disputes. Nevertheless, the author is able to create affecting works by means of 32 Lithuanian characters only without attaching herself to particular poetic traditions and shocking vanguard motifs. Perhaps it is another form of walking ahead of poetry, though slowly and gently?

Jurga Tumasonytė