Poets of Latvia: Raibīs

Oskars Orlovs a.k.a ''Raibīs'' is a Latgalian poet and his poems are brimming with things characteristic of this particular region in Latvia's east. Unlike other young Latvian poets, Raibīs also talks politics, in his bleakly humorous manner illustrating the sometimes strenuous relationship between Latgale and the rest of Latvia.

Raibīs' debut collection appeared late last year under the title Pistacejis, which can be taken to mean both By the station and Pistachio. It's worth noting that the collection has a Latgalian-Latvian dictionary appearing alongside his poems (Latvian speakers sometimes have trouble following Latgalian, but it's never the other way around).

Finally, the word kaladū appearing in his poem is a traditional Christmas song refrain. Pig slaughter usually takes place in autumn. 

The only safari
in my homeland
is closed today
hmm thus the Latvian speakers
will come to the pig slaughter
to film us
oh what joy
oh what jolly good fun we'll have
the last time I laughed like that
was before a hundred years of solitude

when the liver frizzles away on the pan
it'll be time
to drive our guests away with axe in hand
on the third day after the feast
they'll come out of the woods
kaladū kaladū
the jesters will be at a loss
of where's east and west
but
mother is angry already
but what
we can't do anything about
the fact we're like that
the last remaining
natives

The poet speaks:

The poem's somewhat of a grotesque, and the ''I'' that is speaking is placed in a quite interesting role.

Of course, we know that going to the province takes four times as long as going from the province to the center. It's the ticklish situation life brings you.

Sometimes Latgale itself needs the stereotypes. They need the šmakaukathe welcoming people, the cultural and the culinary heritage.

But if you are filming a documentary, you come to Latgale as it's a veritable safari there and everyone keeps a milk cow at home. It's absurd.

The dream of a Latvian lady Mirta is dead. Not everyone has such a romantic situation at home. So maybe let's quieten our attitudes and instead turn to a realistic analysis of the situation. 

Sadly we have no English recording of today's poet, but you can enjoy the sonic qualities of Latgalian via this link to the Latvian broadcast version.

 

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