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Sigitas Geda


Sigitas Geda (1943-2008) was one of the most prolific Lithuanian poets, and he still remains an important literary idol. He made his debut in 1966, and published over 50 collections of poetry for children and adults, librettos, screenplays, and a few books of diaries and essays. In spite of being a regularly published poet, he often found himself in trouble for antagonising the Soviet regime, even to the point of losing his job. He was an active participant in the Sąjūdis movement that led to independence, holding the position of secretary of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union at the time. He received all the main state awards for his work and political involvement, including the Order of Gediminas and the National Prize. His poetry is very life-affirming: it often concerns nature and the harmonious life of people in it. He was also a very prolific translator, never shunning difficult work, including translating the Quran. His own poetry has been translated into English, German, Norwegian and Polish.

Freskos (Frescos). Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishers, 2012. – 119 p.

The last, posthumously published, book of Sigitas Geda’s poetry came as a surprise, even a shock. It is a collection of erotic poetry. And not only does it contain mild sensual elements; each poem deals exclusively with the sexual act. The styles and genres are very different, as are the influences, from crudely humorous folk songs to sophisticated European poetry. The poems contain very strong language that no one would use in respectable company, and sometimes they balance on the edge of parody or satire. However, critics observe that it is not just an empty play of obscenities: it really is a literary work, a study of expression. To what point is it possible to write explicitly, so that it still remains poetry, and not pornography? Some say that it goes even deeper, both testing the limits of Lithuanian erotic language, and extending the boundaries of how sexuality is perceived in Lithuanian culture, ridding it of shyness and guilt, and boldly singing its joys and pleasures.

 Selected translations

Italian: Parole che non potrei proferire. Bologna: In forma di parole, 2007

Polish: Śpiący Teodendron. Strare wiersze Jadźwingów. Warszawa: Ex Libris, 2006

Śpiewy Jadźwingów: poems. Warszawa: Ex Libris, 2002

Latvian: Sokrats runā ar vēju / Sokratas kalbasi su vėju. Rīga: Tapals, 2004

Swedish: Fallande ängel i Palanga / Angelas krintantis Palangoj. Sätaröd: Ariel, 2001

Noerwegian: Mammutenes fedreland. Oslo: Solum forl., 1979