Peter Bruveris, I. K.

translated from the Latvian by Inara Cedrins


And days lived out are our clay,
and sleepless nights – our salt; to the window
where cloud shadow just crossed, bends
a branch of lilac that bloomed this morning, like a joke
one more spring has arrived, lengthening
the distance from Being to the North Pole
or: from a cherry pit this side of the garden gate
to the whistling thrushes on the edge of sunset, that side;

you approach, holding a cornet of wild strawberries in your hands,
you approach, carrying violet mist upon your shoulders,
you approach, the world’s reflection at the ends of your eyelashes,

your steps in soft moss are unheard,
your dreamy fish float in rivers,
and from a pipe of apple wood rising smoke
joins two impossibilities in the skies;

just then the Potter puts a lump of clay on the wheel
and fingers spin out another dish
in which night can gather salty dew;

you leave through the clearing, through violet mist,
and shrivelled hemp and raspberry canes surround you
like awaiting falling stars.


Un nodzīvotās dienas ir mūsu māls,
un bezmiega naktis – mūsu sāls; logā
kuŗ tikko sķērsoja mākoņa ēna, ieliecas
šorīt uzplaucis ceriņa zars, it kā pa jokam
pienācis vēl viens pavasars, pagarinot
attālumu no Esmes līdz Ziemeļpolam
jeb: no ķiršu kauliņa šaipus dāarza vārtiņiem
līdz strazda svilpienam saulrieta pusē, taipus;

tu tuvojies, turot rokās meža zemeņu turzu,
tu tuvojies, turot uz pleciem dūmaku mēļu,
tu tuvojies, turot skropstgalos pasaules atspīdumu,

tavi soļi mīkstajās sūnas ir nedzirdami,
upēs peld tavi sapņainie sami
un no ābeļkoka pīpes kāpjošie dūmi
debesu jumā savieno divas neiespējamības;

tikām Podnieks uzliek uz ripas māla piku,
un pirksti izvirpo vēl vienu trauku,
kuŗā naktij krāt sāļu rasu:

tu aizej pa izcirtumu, pa dūmaku mēļu,
un kaltušās vēja kaņepes un avenāji tev apkārt
kā krītošās zvaigznes gaidoši nāvenāji.

• • •

Peters Bruveris was born in Riga in 1957, and after graduating from the Department of Art and Culture at the Latvian State Conservatory worked as a literary consultant to the newspaper Latvijas Jaunatne (Latvian Youth) and as the director of the literary department of the newspaper Literatura un Maksla (Art and Literature). Nine collections of his poetry have been published: Black Thrush, Red Cherries (1987), Amber Skulls (1991), Sitting On A Park Bench (1994), Black Bird’s Nest in the Heart (1995), Flowers for Losers! (1999), Love Me God (2000), The Landscape of Language (2004), No One Answers Me (2005), and Behind Glass (2006). He has also written four books for children. Brūveris wrote the song lyrics for the popular play “Šveiks,” and wrote the texts for the animation film “Unusual Citizens of Riga” (2001). He translated and edited a collection of Turkish poetry entitled “Courtyards Filled with Pigeons” (1988, together with Uldis Bērziņš), translated the works of Lithuanian poets Kornelijs Platelis, Sigits Gedas, Henriks Raudausks, Toms Venclova, as well as many other works of poetry, and has translated poetry and prose from Azerbaijani, the Crimean Tatar language, Russian, Germany, and Prussian. His poetry has been published in Lithuanian, Russian, Swedish and English translation. He has received the Klāvs Elsbergs Award (1987), the Publisher Preses Nams Award in Literature in 2000 and 2001, the Days of Poetry Prize in 2001 and 2005, and the Award in Literature from the Baltic Assembly in 2004.

Inara Cedrins received her B.A. in Writing from Columbia College in Chicago and her M.A. in Arts Administration at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

She is multiculturally oriented: of Latvian descent, she translates poetry and prose from the Latvian into English. Her anthology of contemporary Latvian poetry written while Latvia was under Soviet occupation was published by the University of Iowa Press, and she is currently working on a new Baltic anthology. She relocated to New York in 1996 and participated in poetry workshops there as well as working on a series of oil on canvas paintings depicting Manhattan’s embellished edifices. She is now working on the Dolce Vita series, centered in Italy but including other European cities.

Inara went to the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing in 1998 to study traditional Chinese ink painting on silk, remaining five years to teach at universities including Tsinghua University and Peking University, as well as to the People's Liberation Army and students at the Central Academy of Fine Art, designing the courses and using poetry as a vehicle. Two collections of her poetry were published bilingually by the Foreign Literature Press in Beijing. In 2002-03 she lectured on art and taught in Guangzhou (Canton).

In 2003 she went to Nepal to study the technique of thangka painting; wrote a book on Symbols and Gods of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal for Pilgrims Press and coordinated the illustrations by a Tibetan thangka painter and a Newari artist. After the king’s coup d’etat, she relocated to Riga, where she started a literary agency called The Baltic Edge and taught Creative Writing at the University of Latvia. She currently lives in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

• • •

[Calque will be periodically featuring new translations of poetry or short prose. These translations will run on the front page for a week. The feature will then be given a permanent link in the translators page. To submit single pieces for online publication, email us.]

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