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Aušra Kaziliūnaitė (b. 1987), a poet, philosopher, and writer is distinguished by her unique poetic style, which combines visual imagery and precision of form with a philosophical relationship to the world that is an inquiry into the essence of things and phenomena.

Kaziliūnaitė is the author of five poetry collections (Pirmoji lietuviška knyga [2007], 20 % koncentracijos stovykla [2009], Mėnulis yra tabletė [2014], esu aptrupėjusios sienos [2016] and Jūros nėra [2021]). Her works have received notable literary prizes: the Jurga Ivanauskaitė Prize, The Young Artist Award (bestowed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania), and the Elena Mezginaitė Prize. Kaziliūnaitė’s works have been translated into 18 languages.

In 2018, Parthian Books (UK) published The Moon Is A Pill, a collection of Kaziliūnaitė’s poetry translated into English by Rimas Užgiris. Kaziliūnaitė has read her poetry at international poetry festivals and participated in writers’ residency programs in both Europe and the US. She was invited to the International Writing Program 2018 (IWP) by Iowa University (USA) and participated courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Kaziliūnaitė holds a degree in history and religious studies. She defended her doctoral thesis and earned her PhD in Philosophy from Vilnius University in 2020.

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reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

Asta Rakauskaitė-Julian, Disappearance, 2000, colored woodcut. From the MO Museum collection.

Poems from the poetry book “there is no sea”

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

there is a river

there are women as straight as strings, always straining to be in tune.
you won’t find a single piece of fuzz on their coats.

there are men in suits who always shake your hand in greeting.
they smile – but circumspectly.

there is a vagrant who sleeps at the Šilo bus stop.
there is a river nearby. there are bushes, hills and vales.
there are unanswered letters, and ducks floating in cold water.

and there is I – I
thinking about whether someone, sometime really
knew what they want to do with their life.

and there is a river.

there is laughter in glass jars – left from long-forgotten times
in our small dark pantries. moldy laughter.
and there are colors, those pretty sky colors. they change.

there are your hands. there is the wanting to want to take your hand.
there is a city. there are streets. there are houses. there are stairwells. there are stairs.
sometimes we climb higher. sometimes we descend.

there is night. we sleep at night. there is day.
there are cafeterias, universities and stores. there are offices and galleries.
there are pictures. there are pictures. there are pictures.

and there is a river.

 

 

souvenirs

I walk the narrow streets
stuffed with tables of fruit and Chinese antiques
heaped with oranges, massive peaches
apples of all possible colors
and all those other fruits whose names I never knew

buddha statuettes, pendants and more pendants, sharp silver thimbles
or maybe nail covers, with austere monkey faces
incense, old compasses
that can be strapped to your wrist like watches
showing direction instead of time
small porcelain cups, little boxes of dried herbs
and good luck coins with square holes

skyscrapers, and more skyscrapers, Starbucks establishments
men without ties in far too pricey suits
like what I saw on Wall Street more than a year ago
and also
the geezers drunk in drunken geezer street-bars
while there are no protests on these streets
on one corner late at night I saw a long-haired man dancing indifferently to Beyoncé

just a few steps more and the hill slopes down –
a creature similar to a twisted fish
if you dropped it into water, it would probably swim in circles all the time –
bus stops spray-painted with Chinese characters
a plethora of police cars
more than I have ever seen in one place
protesters in black holding onto barricades
uncertainty and fear, confusion, ecstasy and boredom, anxiety, happiness
and other conditions weighed out by the kilogram

there’s so much here

but I haven’t seen a single salesperson
in a long time

 

 

conference

to tell the truth, there is no sea at all
they tricked us, but sometimes it’s good to be tricked
especially when the trickery is so strange: neither here nor there
and during the coffee break they give us cinnamon buns

everything is quite simple
you just lead a person to their emptiness and give them a bathing suit
they do all the rest themselves:
gurgle, sough, swell scream, bluster and all that other nonsense

that means they’re hooked, now they’ll tell everyone of the sea
and bring them here to this emptiness, the family on summer vacation will play
beach games and maybe if they try really hard, will get a sun stroke
they’ll take romantic walks in the evening, watch the sun set
and tomorrow unclothe among complete strangers and sunbathe in crowded space
then they’ll splash about in the emptiness, maybe go a bit farther in to pee

they’ll see their faces in the sea, see the glimmer
of all the multicolored stones, shells of dead mollusks
glass shards with gentle surfaces that once were sharp
when they broke and for a while after remained
sharper than now

they’ll see sea weed, full of secrets, whose folds hold more
knowledge than ours, they’re green, then yellow, sometimes even quite black
thrown out on shore, they smell, and little birds pick at them: I don’t know their names
but before turning away from you they always cheep in their cheery way

late at night, standing before the mirror, the people will hear seagulls
see reflections, see wavering faces and the bodies of the drowned tossed on shore
their pink lips tenderly smile
their pink eyes are pink
you greet everybody, shake hands, offer them coffee or tea
and sit down to argue, one about fish-scales, another about how nothing really means anything
and those who are better prepared even have power point slides with pictures of deep-water hake

 

 

skin

now everything is alright
time has arranged us like stencils, like migrating herons
like underage teens returning much too late from a party
arranged on a giant white sheet of silence

while we laugh, I hear gigantic scissors
while we love, they cut
while we still don’t know, they know

now everything is alright, totally copacetic
silence falls on a face, silence falls on hands, silence falls on the belly
how beautifully it enfolds the fingers

this silence isn’t sad, nor angry, nor joyous
this silence is our skin, it’s soft, it embraces us

 

 

people blossom

people blossom out of sorrow
while cherry trees just blossom
blossom blossom

their petals whirl, they climb walls, sticking
out their tongues like lizards, licking our faces
they put on backpacks and go to school, finding
nothing there, but that doesn’t matter

they have lunch in empty cafeterias, walk their dogs
in city parks, but that doesn’t matter

spring is spring because it is
just spring

and there, on the shore, a pair of ducks squat, just squat

water flows over the stones

 

***

I want that the full moon shine – always
that daffodils blooming in the middle of the city
on a springtime night would never wilt
that everyone would forgive everything of everyone else
that they would forgive themselves

that the moon would shine
that flowers would bloom
that the run-over cat would get up
as if nothing happened, and walk down to the river,
chasing butterflies

so big and so white
with little hairs that quiver on their wings
– and I still don’t know what I want

 

***

I’ve been learning how to be human from old trees
from yellow birds

birds
perched on branches broken by the storm

from
the feral cat stalking them
whiskers all atwitch

I’ve been learning how to be human from the rain
from the southern wind
and from the fog
that beautiful fog
in the grasses along the shore

 

 

the little match girl

on nights such as this
when it’s more than minus twenty
on the other side of the glass
when the cold is like a dream
a rabbit with the eyes of a girl
hops through emptied streets

 

 

 

 

 

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