The title of Belševica’s 1969 poetry collection – Annual Rings – holds special meaning, connecting with the ontology of Goethe’s Faust, which as a fundamental principle examines the expressed meaning and power of words as well as their relationship with actions. Words always serve a purpose, even when we only use a few of them. One word has the power to create, preserve and set free; it cannot be erased, it turns back time. The conflict between words and the period in which they’re used illustrates the relationships between truth and power, between freedom and oppression – as shown in the poem ‘The notes of Henry the Latvian on the margins of the Livonian Chronicle’, which describes the illusory nature of an artist’s freedom. By drawing a dramatic parallel between truth and lies in this way, and by revealing the harsh nature of reality, Belševica’s work relates to events in our time: Latvians continue to enact the will of foreign powers, either consciously or subconsciously.
By Nora Ikstena
Nora Ikstena is one of the most prominent and influential prose writers in Latvia. Soviet Milk, shortlisted for the Annual Literature Award, Besa, Celebration of Life, and The Virgin’s Lesson are some of her best known novels. Ikstena is also a prolific author of biographical fiction, nonfiction, scripts, essays, and collections of short prose. Ikstena is co-founder of the International Writers and Translators’ House in Ventspils.