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Vaiva Grainytė (b. 1984) is a writer, playwright, and poet. Her creative practice usually crosses the confines of deskwork and becomes an integral part of an interdisciplinary polylogue. Her writing exhibits features typical of her oeuvre: personal and collective memory play a large part, while daily routines and social issues are in harmony with a poetic and ironic approach.

Her book of essays Beijing Diaries (2012) was nominated for the Book of the Year award in the adult literature category, included in the top twelve listing of the most creative books for that year, and awarded the Augustinas Gricius Prize. Grainytė is also the author of the libretto Have a Good Day (2013), which earned 6 international awards in Europe. Her second work in music – a collaboration with Lina Lapelytė and Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė  Sun & Sea (Marina) (2019) was chosen to represent Lithuania at the 58th Venice Biennale, where it earned the Golden Lion. The author and her colleagues’ work also received the Young Artist Award and earned the highest awards in Lithuanian theater – the Golden Stage Cross and Borisas Dauguvietis’s Earring. Vaiva’s poetry debut Gorilla’s Archives was published in 2019.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Vaiva Grainytė, A Horse and A Jug Are Cousins, 2003

Poetry form the book “Gorilla’s Archives”

 

Chambers (BA Thesis)

I cover my ears with the letter –
a summons to appear before court in April.
The envelope’s paper is thick, bearing a family resemblance
            to cardboard.
I cover my ears as with a shield:
I can hear the cheese and radishes fornicating in the fridge,
where the sour cream screams out the last days of its life.
In the garbage can, quotidian bread parades its green
            fungal fur,
and shoe polish sucks up the floor’s nectar like an angry bee.
I pass by
kicking books of art history and theory,
and the iron.
I throw the silver spoon off the table, hurting its feelings.
Invisible servants begin to work as soon as I turn away,
slandering me, turning red in anger at my every move.

I go to my window –
over the last year, we have had the best relationship.
The glass bows and humbly moves aside:
fresh air steps inside like an endangered beast – – – –

 

How the Bed Looks from Below

A few worms rolling around in the balcony
            like the moon in the sky –
autumn, dampness, sheets of peat.

A glazed dragon in the cupboard.
Under the bed – a purple bear.

Unfinished sketches,
connecting lines fence and fight on paper.

Paper was once wood on which the gentle attar of wind once crawled.
I have lost money

I have lost binoculars
I have lost my country
I have lost myself.

I have crawled up
lied down
squeezed underneath…

For the first time I see how the bed looks from below,
how dusty its back.
The purple bear is like my aunt –
who once set out pickles and
some bologna on the beach –
just lying there.

Her big belly is lodged against the bed:
she appeared after my first zodiac blow.
I don’t want to know her breed,
or her tag number.

I suddenly withdraw –
suddenly moving to the balcony
where a few worms roll around.

The attar of wind – a galant gentleman – washes over me.

Vaiva Grainyte 04Vaiva Grainytė, A Counting-out of Dakinis

 

Undemanding Subscriber

A line at the post office counter:
you can subscribe to magazines about lifestyles, sports,
knitting, the world’s secrets, ancient times, botany,
psychology, extreme experiences.

In churches people try to subscribe to love, to success
in their exams, to the capitulation of growths, tumors,
and multiple sclerosis, to peace for the dead.

In yoga practice, people breathe deeply and subscribe to
stronger thighs, flexibility, a light in their eyes and mind.

I am memorizing a table of German personal pronouns:
Ich – mein(e)
Du – dein(e)
Er, es – sein(e)
Sie – ihr(e)

And I don’t need anything else.

But to domesticate a vagabond dog
            that has broken its pronoun leash –
Me.

 

Blind Man’s Babel

Joyce’s translator is pale
but looks much better than last summer.
I meet him coming back from the hair salon,
on the way, I buy Red English Rose at Drogas.

The UK voted with a slight margin:
the referendum
determining our collective future
that will soon begin.

The day before
I was cutting my hair along the Arctic Circle.
You trusted your head to a Canadian electric shaver:
everything is rhyming again,
reminding me of the first section of the book –
the motif of mirror and razor.

That was two months ago.

Then – a night flight
the morning metro
an hour of sleep
an exhausted body

and the leap from a goose-down outdoorsy jacket of the north
to 32 C summerheat.

Long wooden benches throughout the yard –
in my country it would be called St. John’s Night,
here – a cultural symposium, a conference.

To the embrace, to the referendum:
while the kiosk workers open umbrellas
while the technicians check the machines
while various organizational leaders are stuck in traffic.
(A huge uncut watermelon

scoffs at my accent.)

In my handbag – Red English Rose, leaving the hair salon
            along the street of my childhood
along which several months have passed.
In my handbag – Ulysses, untouched by translation.
Representing my language, the expert on that Irishman
            is sitting in the bakery –
Delicious and Delectable –
everything rhymes again.
The translator looks better than when
I still didn’t have affairs with the politics of international emotion.
The results of the vote are strange, unclear.

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a lantern
            among grammatical dead-ends:
Two Odysseuses wander through the innards
            of a giant monster that has swallowed them both,
            playing catch, hide and seek, blind man’s Babel.

 

Mycology before Sleep

The most exciting moment of the day – time to go to sleep.
I could go to a discotheque,
to a burger joint,
to the opening of some underground space.
But I’ve done all that, many times.
You can experience far more interesting
            surroundings, adventures, characters
and even scents
in dreams.

A few chapters from a 20th c. masterpiece.
Then, two tablets:
melatonin with peppermint – the natural hormone of darkness,
and one full of good bacteria.
If I don’t forget – a prayer or
a summary of the day’s events and announcement of events to come
(with a perennially hanging P.S.,
a conscious comprehension of force majeure:
the heart can refuse to beat –
it is the most autonomous director of the body –
and then all the plans go down the drain).

You dream your grandmother eating Atlantic Cod liver conserves,
the closet in childhood’s wall,
and you sitting in it as if on a swing, your head upturned,
            perhaps about to kiss,
and next to you – an agreeable, famous gentleman
showing you a wad of money or postcards
with fluorescent iguanas:
the lizards are smiling:
strange and wonderful.

All of this happens
while bacteria grow their colonies in the dark:
grannies breed grannies,
fixing fertility and health,
fixing the microbial balance between good and evil.

Vaiva Grainyte 03Vaiva Grainytė, Laughing Gnome

 

Territorial Shift

From time to time I go to buy shampoo
at a specialty store full of beauty products
containing extracts from the Dead Sea.
The shop can be found in the territory of the former ghetto
where violinists, psychology students, linguists, and athletes
wrote their diaries
and carried their kids secreted in burlap potato sacks
hoping
on the other side of the wall
to achieve a life.

The Dead Sea extracts will climb out
of all those bottles, soaps, and face cream jars
to sweep over the whole store,
flood the territory,
to redress history and a failed name – Dead.
Crabs will begin to breed on the floor,
pearls will mature in sheltering shells
propelled by the snouts of pretty fish and their fry –
they’ll play foursquare, billiards, basketball, football…
lush plants will
rustle and grow verdant.
It will be a sea full of life, peace and joy.

There, where I once walked, bought, consumed –
one who invested time and money in healthy hair.

 

 

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

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