Vilnius Review is featuring a debut column. Every year we will present some young poets and prose writers who haven’t yet published books but who have been noted for their involvement in the literary scene, including periodicals, literary readings, and youth contests. For many of these authors, the magazine offers a first step into the foreign space because we will be publishing the first English translations of their work. Equally, this is an opportunity for the foreign reader, interested in the literatures of Lithuania and other small countries, to discover the names of these budding young writers and their opinions on writing as well as appreciate the lively pulse of literature in development.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Mikalojus Povilas Vilutis, Drawing Out My Fear, 2019. Paper, ink, 64 x 90 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas 


Photo by Emija Grigorjeva


I was born on the 2nd of November 1992. I’m from a seaside town, but I moved to Vilnius after graduating high school. I have a degree in psychology, while my current research interests are in sociology. My creative pursuits are poetry and theater.



For a Safer World

when I was fifteen
we searched restrooms for hidden cameras
with my friend
who said we’re being followed
she also said
that aliens are coming to get us
it’s forbidden for us to walk alone at night
but we did
we wanted to see the aliens and their almond-shaped heads
their long slender hands
and when my friend saw
the cameras the aliens and other suspicious objects
they stuck her with a needle
in the white hallways
she was beautiful when she slept
as if she were snow white
waiting to be kissed
by the seven dwarfs
so that she could wake up in a safe world

she woke up
but the world wasn’t safer
even by the gram of an almond
her hands shook as she painted her lips
and smiled toward summer street

I remember how beautiful she was
full of paranoid voices
that aren’t real in the white hallways
that turn out to be true

where are you now



the word rings in your head
as your body goes numb
when you pay the pharmacist
for a safer world



I Had to Forget

you wanted to take her hand
to stop her from feeding a hungry dog
I didn’t hear any words
only a dog’s bark
I saw how it drooled
seeing her hand
so soft and chaste
like from a renaissance painting
a heaven made by a brush
which I think I won’t enter
I try to remember
whether I’ve been there or not
I check the print of a winged creature
between my nose and lips
still there
I had to forget
but I remember it all
standing outside the frame
the dog was asking to go out



10 days

10 days
only 10 days
you need to stay calm
putting one foot in front of the other
making the slightest step
like that time you were holding the porcelain cup
your aunt got you for your ninth birthday

10 days
only 10 days
you need to anchor your thoughts
and look through the window
at the same crow that always flies by at the same time
perhaps you’ll see her outside
maybe you’ll even ask her
“still trying to forget?”

10 days
only 10 days
and you’ll know
who will ditch you when the tower of matches falls
and who will pull at your limbs from the pile
reinforce the construction and the network of blood vessels
and send that SOS message:
how are you?

10 days
only 10 days
and you’ll step out into the street
and swap blood plasma
with each passerby
and it won’t hurt anymore
it won’t hurt like this ever

and if the 10 days are up and it hurts
the count begins again
like lunar phases in the gardener’s calendar
who then will cover your knees which crack
when the moon hits the first quarter
who will count to 10

10 days my dear
and you’ll know
now go to sleep

















Photo by Deividas Stankūnas


I was born in 1992 in Klaipėda, currently I live in Vilnius. My creative impetus is grounded in a very intense inner rage and a predisposition to be disgusted by social norms, so my texts are rehabilitative attempts at finding myself in this absurd reality. I like to observe various perversions, obsessions, addictions, and motives of lust, madness, and the absurd, which at the end of the day leave us with indelible, unforgettable, authentic experiences.



one ton of potatoes

box after box
icy pallet after icy pallet
i’m steering them deeper into the factory
after me
one ton of frozen potatoes
sometimes my cranky long-forked Betsy
slips and
skids on the turn
almost hitting the pallet rack

her faulty horn
sounds like the hollow wail
of an old tramp
who spent her life smoking
contraband cigarettes
drinking the cheapest gin
and cursing
her brakes barely work
sometimes the steering wheel jams
the hydraulic system screeches in pain
when it lifts a heavy load of pallets
but for some reason
death hasn’t yet erased her
or me
from the books

night after night
cold month after the month’s cold
despair steers me
after the frozen potatoes
deeper into the icy
innards of my personal hell
my slippy existence
skids on the turn and i hit
my overloaded rack of pallets
thousands of tons of pressure
fall down
crushing me
burying me



reading the teachings of Buddha
on enlightenment
and other states
inconceivable to a consciousness
eclipsed by the ego
i found a parable
about a lotus flower growing upon
a heap of rubbish on the highway
attracting passersby and giving joy
with its sweet scent

my existence is
a drunk heap of shit
lying by a dirt road
and this is my body
from which a dog-rose has sprouted
that reeks of cigarette butts
and the piss
of feral dogs
it latches its thorns
on the robe
of an unwary drifter
it slashes the hides of predators
making deep wounds
that heal slowly
it glares in the distance
from the trash
that’s stuck in its branches
broken beer bottle shards
and lost underwear

it is by far
not the worst
that could happen
it’s much worse
to be a well-trimmed lawn
with another identical
synthetic doormat
on the porch
of an exemplary
statistical unit

to wipe
your feet



collective cold

yet again we’re suspended one floor
above the swirling syringes
and the beautiful snow covering
the putrefying corpse of the earth
in the dark
above the circus freaks
above the circulating dung flies and sawdust
we’re sitting in the last row
of a stuffed soviet apartment
eating the beautiful snow
that covers faces
who haven’t been sober
in a long time but are so
painfully familiar






  Photo from personal archive



I was born on June 20, 1996, in Vilnius. I studied history and heritage science at Vilnius University. I currently work in heritage protection and study architectural and technical heritage. I’m also a tour guide for the crypts of Vilnius Cathedral. I began publishing poetry in 2021.





a herd of golden deer
the emerald glow of northern lights


earth-toned me
the wintry privation of color


hooves built for snow
wind-resistant fur


feet always get blisters
my hair won’t keep me warm


are nourished by Icelandic moss


am allergic to many products

are so unlike
but could be




Swamp Archaeology

a team of archaeologists searching for
secret passageways through the swamps
uncover several blackened skulls
and bury them even deeper
before finding out
who they belonged to
where do these marshland spirits come from
with girdles of fog on their waists
whose whispers rise from the bog ponds
in a language long forgotten?

“the place is haunted, don’t go there”
the graying professor said to the student,
who did go, of course.

we don’t know what he saw
his eyes have turned the color of swamps
and the moon was submerged in his pupil.



How I Grasped the Concept of Empiricism

They threatened me at school:
keep getting bad grades and you’ll be a groundskeeper.
I saw them through the window all covered in leaves,
I got bad grades – but didn’t become one of them.

They taught me at home:
don’t go into the forest without braiding your hair
or the wood fairies will get you.
I used to let my hair down in the darkest spruce groves –
but not one of them came.

They warned me at work:
if you keep coming late you’ll lose the job.
I overslept five times –
they weren’t lying.







What motivated you to write your first poem or story and to publish it?

Alina: I was curious to see what would happen if I tried.
Haroldas: I was motivated to write my first creative works by the death of my grandfather. When I was sixteen, I lost the person who had been closest to me in my life and at the same time I discovered Sigitas Parulskis’s collection of essays, “Sraigė su beisbolo lazda” (A Snail with a Baseball Bat). I found that I really liked this genre of short prose, which was only three to four pages long, and so I began to write by copying Parulskis’s style. I cloaked my true self behind irony and cynicism and wrote because I was grieving, and because I was depressed. When I showed my first attempts at writing to my friends, I became strangely addicted. Ten years ago, my first literary works were published. Later, I became interested in poetry and shifted to this genre.
Uršulė: It’s hard to remember when I wrote my first literary work… Before I had even learned how to write, while playing, I’d create stories. I would tell my family the stories I’d created, and I’d put on performances for them. Once I learned how to write, I would write stories and short histories. I even began keeping a separate journal for my creative writing; I bound my own book with string. When I became a teenager, I began writing a diary. I felt the need to have more space for myself, and I wanted to reflect on what was happening inside of me, what was happening around me. In the upper grades of high school my favorite class was Literature and I most enjoyed reading poetry in school. I read philosophy books during my free time. My poems were born quite naturally.


Does the tradition of Lithuanian literature influence you?

Alina: Yes, at first it was the main engine behind my work and my inspiration.
Haroldas: Yes, especially authors like Sigitas Parulskis, Gintaras Grajauskas, Algimantas Mackus, Aušra Kaziliūnaitė, Mantas Gimžauskas. They all inspired me to try my hand at poetry.
Uršulė: I would not say it had a conscious influence on me, but I do think that it settles within your thinking, your vocabulary, your choice of narratives. I read a lot of contemporary poetry, but I also read a lot of work written by writers working in other countries. Somehow all of it weaves together into one common thread.


Is it important to you to belong to a community of writers?

Alina: Yes, it is important for a young writer to feel the support of the community.
Haroldas: If you had asked me this question ten years ago, my answer would have been, “Yes.” That’s because at that time a community of writers was a unique part of my personal identity. However, now, in this present time, my answer has changed to, “No.” That’s because I’m interested exclusively in individual writers, and if I’m interested enough, I will spend time with them on an individual basis.

Uršulė: Yes, it’s important. I like to feel that I am a part of something. I like to feel the overall literary atmosphere, its pulse. At the same time, it’s important for me to separate myself when I need to.


In your opinion, what place does literature occupy in today’s culture, which is dominated by visual media?

Alina: I think literature plays quite an important role and that’s because it becomes visual through social media and advertisements. In this way, it takes on new meanings.
Haroldas: My subjective opinion is that literature is a meditative space away from social media and platforms, and that’s because reading takes concentration and focus.
Uršulė: I think it plays an important role. Literature enables images to appear, and while creating literature you can draw inspiration from images. I do not see any conflict between the genres. Perhaps accessing images is easier and “faster,” but that does not mean that visual medias have more meaning than literature. I believe that literature will always be important. Literature is written—and will continue to be written—into our bodies.


Name one of your favorite contemporary foreign authors.

Alina: The young Estonian poet Aliis Aalmann.
Haroldas: Recently I read Hugh Howey’s science fiction post-apocalyptic series, Silo. That’s one of the best science fiction genre books I’ve ever read.
Uršulė: Most of my favorite foreign authors are physically dead, but when I read their work, I feel as though they were still creating. For example, Lorca. I also like contemporary Latvian poetry.


Do you expect that literature and activities associated with literary work will be the main source of your income in the future?

Alina: No, I do not believe that literature will become my main source of income; however, literature will always exist for me as a means of self-expression separate from earning a living.
Haroldas: Most definitely not. My creative work appears very sporadically, and I never attempted to become an expert in the field. Also, because in the Lithuanian context living from your creative work more often than not is tragic because writers live in poverty. Also, my topics are on the experience of depression and suicide, and that is a niche area, an alternative genre. As the years pass by, I find myself producing less and less.
Uršulė: I would like to believe that it will be.


Translated by Markas Aurelijus Piesinas


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