- Lithuania -
Aivaras Veiknys (b. 9 of January 1983 in Elektrėnai). Studied Real Estate Management in Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. His first book R aktai (Keys) was published in 2007.
Worked as a journalist in Lithuanian daily "Respublika", has been in Afghanistan and prepared reportage from there.
Aivaras was awarded twise in Lithuanian Poetry Festival "Poetry Spring" in 2008 and 2010 as young emergent poet. Cultural Press willingly is publishing his poetry from 2008, literature critics are very positive about his poetry.
Aivaras is a coorganizer of a Festival "Literatūrinės Vilniaus slinktys" (Literary slide of Vilnius) and he is a compiler or three Anthologies of this Festival (2011-2013).
His second book "Paukštuko liudijimai" was published in 2014 and was awarded with prestigious “The Young Yotvingian prize” as a best young poet’s book.
Aivaras Veiknys (b. 1983 in Elektrėnai). Poet and journalist. Studied Real Estate Management in Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. Worked as a journalist in Lithuanian daily newspaper "Respublika", has been in Afghanistan and prepared reportage from there. Such short facts from his biography as Aivaras is not the youngest of five Lithuanian poets but with the shortest experience in writing.
Aivaras started to write his poetry in school. First his poems appeared in students book "Gyvenimo labirintais" (Labyrinths of life). His first book R aktai (Keys – the name of the book is a words’ game: "Raktai" means keys and aktai means acts. When asked why R aktai he explained that poems are Acts of writing: “Poem is a very intimate communication with world. Sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes it hurts) was published in 2007. His first book was not the debut what poet can dream about. Aivaras himself was upset because of it. He tells that poems were not good in this book. "I felt like a lyrical subject from Hermann Hesse book "Unterm Rad" (Beneath the Wheel) – everything was so obscure around me". Nevertheless he didn’t stop to write and to offer his poems for different festivals and cultural press.
He participated in "Readings of young poets" and was awarded twice in Lithuanian Poetry Festival "Poetry Spring" in 2008 and 2010 as young emergent poet.
Cultural Press willingly started publishing his poetry from 2008, and literature critics were very positive about his poetry. 2008 year can be considered as a break point as Aivaras started to participate in different Festivals as participant of main readings. This is a way how he started to prepare for his second poetry book.
His second book "Paukštuko liudijimai" (Testimonies by little bird) was published in 2014. But he prepared for the book for much longer time. It was no surprising that it was awarded with prestigious "The Young Yotvingian prize" in festival "Druskininkai Poetic Fall| as a best young poet’s book of the year. The Commission appointed by board of public organization Druskininkai Poetic Fall read all new books and then decide about The Yotvingian and The Young Yotvingian prize prize for the best book of the year. The Yotvingian prize is one of the most important prizes for Lithuanian poets. It’s eveluation of their work. And the Young Yotvingian prize obligates a poet – this means that we do expect more in a future.
The book Testimonies by little bird was edited by one of the mostly known Lithuanian poet Aidas Marčėnas. He wrote about Aivaras: "He is a poet. He is clinging to life with his poems. Language is working its job in his poetry and this means that we are talking about a real poet". Not so many poets could hear words like that so this means much. This was a main reason for commission to give The Young Yotvingian prize for Aivaras.
The presentation of his new book was held only after this important awarding so many poetry readers knew Aivaras and presentation was crowded. Aivaras is perfect poetry reader for Lithuanian auditory. He speaks clearly and he knows how to talk to people listening to him. Social motives in his poetry are important as it is in all contemporary Lithuanian poetry. Young poets are active socially, they are brave and confident, they meet their readers in libraries, schools and this is why they go forward.
Aivaras is a coorganizer of a Festival "Literatūrinės Vilniaus slinktys" (Literary slide of Vilnius) and he is a compiler or three Anthologies of this Festival (2011-2013). It’s important to tell that this Festival is a new phenomenon for Lithuanian poetry and especially young poets. We have two big international poetry Festivals – Poetry Spring and Druskininkai poetic Fall. This new festival rises new young poets and it can be as important as those two festivals are for Lithuanian poetry readers.
Boys Playing War / Berniukai žaidžia karą
They came to fix the sewer pipe:
all kinds of machines,
working for days –
they dug a trench through the yard,
with giant mountains on either side.
No more shitty guns for us,
no more “bang, bang, you’re dead” –
now it is for real.
We crouch on separate sides of the front –
our pockets full of earth,
our hearts full of clay.
We throw clods and stones, throwing
clods and stones.
When it gets dark –
completely dark –
mother leans from the kitchen window,
looks around, drunk, not seeing,
and starts to howl like a pig:
– “Biiiitches, come hommeee, now!!!”
But what is home when the front is boiling over?
Clods and stones whistle by, clods
and stones whistling, sparks
fly out from our ears.
there is just my brother and I,
a bump on my forehead,
a tear in his eye,
the black kitchen window
waves its curtains at our return.
At midnight –
in the deepest center of the night –
mother suddenly rises, and tiptoes
into our room: we lie – so similar,
so similar, we are so similar
that you could barely tell
which one of us was more dead.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Lifting / Pakelti
Half my friends from the yard were going to the gym,
so I decided one day, enough was enough:
I would go too.
The gym sported so many mirrors
that the first weight I had to bear
was my own reflection in the glass.
I did that neighborhood gym for a month,
but my image didn’t change.
When it looked like all this was in vain –
why burden myself if there is no gain? –
my grandfather died.
The wake was in the central funeral home –
just above our gym.
I went up the stairs; I went
down the stairs; I saw myself in the mirror –
Arnold Schwarzenegger looked back
at me –
and there was nothing I couldn’t lift.
And there will be nothing.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
The Time of Miracles / Stebuklų metas
November ends with the clanging of chains,
and smoke now snakes toward the south,
a pinch of salt, dirt, defilement – vouch
for pain throughout the night. The last rains
turn to snow as you crawl out for kindling
into a crunching world. The pigs say amen –
you parried the heart-spike – feed them in their pen.
A brood of chickens flocks – cluck, clucking
by the windows. Slowly, December stirs
as Venus opens her eye like an omen,
watching over children as they sleep.
Banality reigns: now but a saw sounds deep
in a forest of fir, yet one more miracle will occur –
a mute man will denounce you to the Romans.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Smoke / Dūmai
This poem needs smoke –
not some kind of noun, but
the imperative mood,
at whose command I begin to act:
waving my arms,
tearing the curtains, musty with years,
and finally – seeing visions
which were supposed to be
Smoke has no body, no definite
state – it flutters like
night moths, winding upon itself, mixing
with tobacco smoke;
the mood becomes adjectival,
a huge field, rushes
on the edge comb a lake;
they used to take us there
to dig potatoes: flushed faces in heat –
live graves slowly rowing with hoes...
wind from the lake.
crows from the lake-sent wind...
Then – a mare with sad eyes,
a wagon piled with sacks...
We were given enough
to always have a lack...
so that I don’t remember it all.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
It flew up / Atskrido
One August evening –
as if from nowhere –
it smashed its beak
on the balcony glass –
sent greetings from
the other side – –
– superstitions, babble,
knocks on heart-space
with thin needles, mother
lies in the hospital –
half her body lost,
words pecked out, inside – –
mom, I said, you just
hang in there; while I myself
teeter over the abyss,
clutching her dead hand.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Vandžiogala* / Vandžiogala*
Graves, a modest Polish graveyard,
where – with everyone else – rest in peace,
Milosz’s grandparents were laid;
a garden purring in noonday sun,
a small children’s garden: girls, boys; I –
hauled by my wife to the in-laws, slowly
walking the narrow path, a stranger, opened
and shut by the living and dead, locals
distanced from each other by decades
of unlived life, shrubbery,
a fence, their only connection.
* A village near Kaunas© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Another Life / Kito gyvenimo
In my school days, I hated long-distance running –
shooting suddenly in front, I’d fly as fast
as my legs could carry, panting after a lap –
I would nervously look over my shoulder:
how far ahead? are they gaining on me? to be
first meant to prove everything to everybody.
But one time, running tenth or eleventh,
I fell like a corpse into the damp stadium grass
and lay there until they passed me, even the girls,
except for one, who didn’t need
to prove anything –
we lay there together in the grass,
and that was all – –
– – that girl remains – – now,
when all the distances are long,
and I try to overcome them with words
because everything that happened to me
has turned into words,
words, that have to come out –
but I need different words now –
to begin to live again –
I need another life.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Bed / Lova
Complaining of the slightest movement –
old, hard –
falling apart for thirteen years –
my grandmother died in it –
it was noon, under the glare
of the March sun; in the other room,
blowing off chemistry class,
we smoked Red Whites
for a litas seventy-nine
and played cards
Through a small gap in the door,
out of the corner of my eye,
I watched the movement
of my grandmother’s stomach:
like a Boeing
full of drunken travelers,
it rose and fell,
rose and fell,
until she burned up all her fuel.
We carried her out,
wrapped in a white quilt, and –
one, two, threeee! –
we tossed her into the van; for a minute
we shuffled our feet,
then returned to continue the game
in debt.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Hometown / vaikystės miestas
Lvov is everywhere
writes the translated Adam Zagajewski,
and my dreams prove it:
anywhere I go,
my hometown hides within me,
like a stowaway in a ferry cabin,
like a fare-dodger at the back of a bus,
without a passport, without a ticket,
without a clear goal –
a ticking bomb in the most secret
corner of the heart,
and when it blows, you smell smoke:
burning piles of leaves on Friendship street,
November’s dripping snow,
an injured, young crow with the eyes of a madman,
a football bouncing
on a basketball hoop,
fresh buns for three kopeks –
it would be hard to put it in chronological order,
everything tied in knots,
giving some sense of direction...
my father served in Mongolia,
a tank man
who would blow up a balloon for me on Victory Day,
when he got sloshed, he’d begin to howl –
I’ll cut you, bastard!
sometimes I think that maybe he killed me,
that I didn’t manage to grow up,
that 31 means 13,
that I remained a child of grey tenements:
sugary bread squeezed in my fist,
staring at my neighbor’s angry dog
on the grass behind the building,
squeezing my fist until blood,
like some mousetrap
that has caught a kicking cow
by the udder.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris
Stone Age / akmens amžius
stones are just like people,
he liked to say, each has a secret life –
hard like the ground of remembrance...
how walls would turn out strong and smooth –
worthy of all the prizes which we
would mostly squander...
my father was a mighty maker,
far mightier than those compared to me
by ignorant critics –
heavier than his stones,
maybe heavier than his trailer, filled
with stones that he gathered near Biržai...
he always carried two in the pockets of his pants –
the size of fists, blackened and callous,
you could say your prayers if he pulled them out...
my father, who is not, is still my cornerstone
in this harsh stone world –
having built so much in his life,
having demolished so much.© translated by Rimas Uzgiris