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Graphic Novels

Reflections on Belonging

The Vilnius Review begins to publish a cycle of essays called "Reflections on Belonging". Lithuanian writers and writers of Lithuanian origin will write about literature, translation, language, gender, identity and belonging.
Are we, as poet and translator Rimas Uzgiris puts it, "post-colonial, post-identity, post-home"? Or do we belong somewhere? Is language our only home? What does it mean to write - in one language, in two, in several languages? What is lost in translation? How does mobility and migration affects our life and literature?
These and other themes will be reflected upon by different writers, translators and essayists.

"Reflections on Belonging" is sponsored by association LATGA.



Photo by Žana Gončiar
I was fake, and as soon as I admitted it, the sooner I could get on with my peon life, or what would be left of it now. What was I to do? I went to the nearest šilelis where I brought a small rupintojėlis, set him down on the moss, fell to my knees and prayed, “Jesus, Jesus, please make me real! Make me paramount!” But the Lord forsook me. And why wouldn’t He? I was some American poseur.

By Gint Aras

Photo by Mantas Mockus
What else depends on me?
Poets come to me sometimes.
But the café is just really there for itself.
Just like thoughts are.

By Neringa Abrutytė

Authors archive photo
When I am truly honest with myself, can I say that I ever feel secure anywhere? No, I cannot. At my age certainly I should have a solidly formed core identity and a sense of security that I can draw from no matter where in the world I find myself. But I do not. Although I am very strong, tough even, it is the strength of a street fighter, and not of one who is at peace with herself.

By Laima Vincė

Photo from personal archives
I carefully combine words and feel that Lithuanian sentences are caught with magic realism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) smiles, surrounded by yellow butterflies.

By Jolanta Ona Vitkutė

Photo by Payal Bugbee
But the Lithuanian language for me is like an enormous shopping center in which I am the oldest employee and where I know the instructions for use and the ingredients of almost every item, while English is just a small and luxurious specialized store. To write in Lithuanian for me is like playing jazz on the piano!

By Vaiva Rykštaitė

Photo by Algimantas Aleksandravičius
Berlin accepted me like it does everyone else, granting my temporary existence a temporary shelter. It allowed me to finally become what I am. It forced me to pause, relax, stop being perfect, to mind others, and to find the courage to be the person I had dreamed, but never dared, of being. Here I am nobody, but I am myself.

By Lina Ever

Photo by Dainora Blažiūnė
Do women increase the masculinity of power because it is the only kind of power known through civilizations? Does a woman instead of pursuing her femininity become a man? Does this happen because female identity was for too long not recognized as a different one? (...) Women stand radically for their rights and freedom in different continents, but what if the freedom—being the biggest passion ever—only leads to a bigger trap of a power that is masculine in character?

Photo by Marina Aris
I see a slightly older girl traveling for the first time to Chicago where her grandparents live and marching up the front steps of a stranger’s house where two old women converse in Lithuanian on the porch. “Why are you speaking my family’s language,” the little girl demands in the same tongue. “That’s ours not yours.”

By M. M. De Voe

Galloping World, 2015. Photo by Dainius Dirgėla

by Agnė Žagrakalytė

I know that this safe greenhouse that I boast about here, this bubble in which I live, can at any time be torn apart by the terrible red horse of history.

Author archive photo
People ground their roots in memory, childhood, and in a specific piece of land, but their canopies graze the sky.

By Jaroslavas Melnikas

Renata Palubinskas, Circus of Life, 2005

by Sandra Bernotaitė

Having multiple identities is exhausting—so I was told by a few people, and I agree. To find a refuge in language, to escape the contradictions and necessity to choose one identity—that is an easy way out for me as a writer. I chose not to give up the comfort, depth, or immediacy between my unconsciousness and consciousness that my native language gives me.


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