Rainis (born Jānis Pliekšāns, 1865–1929) is one of the most important Latvian writers, poets and playwrights of all time, a public figure and politician. “Tālas noskaņas zilā vakarā” (Distant Moods in a Blue Evening, 1903) is the first collection of poems by Rainis and includes the poems composed during his deportation in Slobodsk, Russia (in late 19th century, Rainis was arrested and deported (1897-1903) to Russia for his political views).
In the 23rd episode of the #mindpower project, the Maltese sculptors Alfred and Aaron Camilleri Cauchi read an aphorism written by Rainis about the necessity to honour every person since only together do individuals form humanity.
In the 22nd episode of the #mindpower project, the Italian singer and wine maker Albano Carrisi reads an excerpt from Aspazija’s poem “The Key to Life” from “The Wings Spread Wide” poetry collection (1920).
The 16th episode of #mindpower is dedicated to Rainis’ political activities. In April 1920, Latvian poets Rainis and Aspazija, greeted by thousands of their compatriots, returned to Latvia from the Swiss exile. Rainis was elected Member of Constitutional Assembly and Member of Parliament. From December 1926 till January 1928, he held the position of Minister for Education.
One of the seminal pieces of Latvian literature, Rainis’ “The Golden Horse” is newly translated to English. The play, written in 1909, relates to Latvia’s fight for cultural autonomy at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the 21st episode of the #mindpower project, Cypriot fashion designer Kika Ioannidou reads Rainis’ aphorism about the similarities and differences between the Sun and human love.
In the 20th episode of the #mindpower project, the Greek composer, singer and performer of lyre, Psarantonis, reads an excerpt from Aspazija’s poem “Silk Veil” from “An Armful of Flowers” (1911) poetry collection. It speaks about small nations that have great cultural heritage.
This year Latvia celebrates the 150th anniversary of poets and public figures Rainis and Aspazija. The year of their anniversary coincides with the first Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which provides an opportunity to look at the legacy of these great personalities in the wider context of the history of European ideas. The relationship between writers and power was not only a major issue in previous centuries, but remains so today.
Photo: Aiga Rēdmane. Actress Rēzija Kalniņa
Latvia is celebrating the anniversary of the births of Rainis and Aspazija in an ornate, colourful and vivid way this year. The view of the Rīga Festival is moving toward the direction of poesy.
In the 19th episode of the #mindpower project Wafa al Kenany reads an excerpt from the article “The Question of Virtue in the Play Lost Rights” written by Aspazija. The play (published in 1894) depicts a woman who perishes because of the double-tongued morals of the society. Aspazija was the first author who dared to speak openly about the state of women in the society, about their potential in shaping the history and their rights to live according to their feelings.