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In London and Oxford, a focus on Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian women’s creative work

Lithuanian Culture Institute

The Baltic Women Writers Tour will be held on 1-3 June in London and Oxford. The goal of the events in this tour will be to reveal the development of literature created by women from the XIX century until now and provide British readers and literary experts with the opportunity to hear the voices of modern Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian authors.

Poet and cultural commentator Aušra Kaziliūnaitė (Lithuania), editor and translator Karla Gruodis (Lithuania), prose writer and essayist Nora Ikstena (Latvia), translator and editor Kaija Straumanis (Latvia), poet, prose writer and translator Maarja Kangro (Estonia), and literary critic and editor Johanna Ross (Estonia) will participate in the discussions and readings on the tour.

The project was initiated by cooperation between the Lithuanian Culture Institute and Oxford-based publicist and literary agent Erika Lastovskytė. The organisers were joined by the Lithuanian Embassy in the UK, the Latvian International Writers’ and Translators’ House, the Estonian Literature Centre, and the Estonian Embassy in the UK.

“In preparation for the 2018 London Book Fair, at which the Baltic states will present their guest-country Market Focus programme, we have an excellent opportunity to introduce United Kingdom readers and publishers to six interesting creators. We are glad that Aušra Kaziliūnaitė’s poetry will soon be published in English by publisher Parthian in Wales, and that Škėma’s ‘Balta Drobulė,’ translated by Karla Gruodis, will be published this year thanks to publisher Vagabond Voices,” said Lithuanian Culture Institute Programme and Project Division head Rūta Nanartavičiūtė.

According to Lastovskytė, though the Baltic states’ fates have many things in common, rather significant historical and cultural differences have led to unique developments in each country’s literature. “What’s unique about the literary expression of women writers from the Baltic states? What are these women’s voices sharing? Does the translation of texts from these marginalised languages into English grant a special experience to Lithuanian, Latvian or Estonian authors? What does it mean to translate womanhood? These are questions that we will try to explore during our events,“ said Lastovskytė.

The Baltic Women Writers Tour will begin with an event in London on 1 June called Cartographies of Silence: Baltic Women Writers in Translation at the largest book store in Europe – Waterstones Piccadilly. The event’s moderator, writer, editor and art critic Lucy Popescu will join literary analysts Karla Gruodis, Kaija Straumanis and Johanna Ross to discuss the development of the work of Baltic women writers. Aušra Kaziliūnaitė, Nora Ikstena and Maarja Kangro will read pieces of their poetry and prose.

On 2 June, the Baltic Women Writers Tour will join the Oxford Translation Day programme at the Waterstones book store in Oxford. The Poeting in Translation event, which will be moderated by writer, poet and publisher Dan Holloway, will be dedicated to the meanings and various nuances of literary translations. The Baltic authors will participate in the reading of poetry in many languages.

The tour will end on 3 June at a discussion entitled The Bold and the Baltic: Women‘s Writing from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that will be held at St. Anne’s College in Oxford. Participants from all three countries will reveal problems in historical and modern women’s creative work, and the discussion will be followed by poetry and prose readings.