New series of Baltic Assembly Prize winners launched


2022 10 20


The first book has been released in the series Naujoji Klasika. Baltijos Asamblėjos Premijos Laureatų Kūryba (New Classics. Works by Winners of Baltic Assembly Prize), which has been initiated by the Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Writers‘ Union together with their partners the Latvian Writers‘ Union and the Estonian Writers‘ Union: the poem collection The Tower by Estonian poet Ene Mihkelson. The book will be presented on 28 October, 5 p.m., at the Writers‘ Club (Sirvydo str. 6) with participation of guests from Estonia.

At the Writers‘ Club, Ene Mihkelson‘s life and works will be reviewed in more detail by literary scientist, poet, prosaist, founder of the Ene Mihkelson Society and researcher of prosaist works Dr. Aija Sakova and by literary scientist, lecturer of University of Tartu and one of this year‘s winners of the Ene Mihkelson research grant Arne Merilai. During the event, translator Agnė Bernotaitė-Jakubčionienė will share her experience of preparing this poem collection.

A prestigious Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature is awarded annually to the author of a novel, play, collection of poems, short stories or essays or another similar work written in Lithuanian, Estonian or Latvian. “The aim of the prize is to highlight the authentic and strong voices of each Baltic state’s writers. It is truly delightful news and a huge leap forward: the fact that from now on the works that have been awarded the prize will be published as a separate, independent book series. We hope that this will not only diversify and increase the overall amount of translations from Latvian or Estonian, but, above all, will also improve the cultural relations of the Baltic states”, the Vice-Minister of Culture Daina Urbanavičienė said.

“Over the last thirty years of Independence, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union has attempted multiple times to establish cooperation with the Latvian and Estonian writers’ unions but intense meetings began only in 2018, when the Latvian Writers’ Union started implementing the one-year project The Network of Baltic Writers’ Unions funded by the Nordic Culture Point”, the chair of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union Birutė Jonuškaitė said. “After the three countries’ writers’ unions started working together and completed a certain amount of work, it was decided to extend the cooperation and in 2019 funding was received for an additional three years. One of the goals of this active cooperation was to revive the publishing of books by the winners of the Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature“.

Since the establishing of the prize, after the restoration of Independence, in 1991, the books by the authors who have received the award had been translated into the other two Baltic states’ languages and published in a book series. However, later on, this process was stopped. In 2020, the ministers of culture of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the translation, publishing and promotion of literary works awarded the Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature, and the writers’ unions of these countries signed a mutual cooperation agreement, also regarding the unified design of the book series.

“It is planned that the series New Classics. Works by Winners of Baltic Assembly Prize will be updated each year by at least two new publications. In other words, a few years later we will already have a small yet tasteful shelf of the winners’ books with recognizable design. The series will also be exceptionally accessible: according to the agreement by the Ministry of Culture and the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, the libraries will receive a significant number of these books’ copies”, Rūta Lazauskaitė, the Adviser at the Professional Creativity and Internationality Policy Group of the Ministry of Culture, said. The second book of the series will be released soon: the novel Bogene by Latvian writer Gundega Repše, which was translated from Latvian by Jurgis Banevičius.

“The Estonian literary classic author’s Ene Mihkelson’s (1944–2017) poetry collection The Tower (2010) is her final work. It is a book of complex, difficult texts, which has appeared in Lithuania at the time when we are observing a war happening nearby, when, as Mihkelson wrote, the soul is aching with anger and pain. The free verse poems touch upon the topics of the 20th century catastrophes, war, the Soviet occupation, their consequences, memory, identity and choices; these themes are significant to Mihkelson’s work: the author’s previous three novels examine different trajectories of fate in post-war Estonia; the poetry collection The Tower concludes the series. The collection’s texts are characterized by line breaks, economic, unadorned language, and imagery of dreariness and pain; all of this make it possible to compare them to the works by Lithuanian emigrant poets Liūnė Sutema and Algimantas Mackus”, translator Agnė Bernotaitė-Jakubčionienė noted while introducing the book to the readers.

The book’s publishing was funded by the Ministry of Culture. It was published by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union in cooperation with the Publishing House of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union. The poems were translated from Estonian by Agnė Bernotaitė-Jakubčionienė, edited by Janina Riškutė; special editor: Judita Malininaitė. The design concept was created by Aleksejs Muraško.