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Dovilė Bagdonaitė (b. 1991) is a visual artist and poet. A graduate of the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Bagdonaitė earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in monumental painting before pursuing a doctoral degree and receiving the title of Doctor of Arts in 2022. She’s active in the field of visual art and has created works for display in the public spaces of Vilnius.

Bagdonaitė published her first poetry book Blue Whale’s Heart in 2016 after the manuscript earned her the first place in the LWU’s First Book Competition. She has also published poetry in Šiaurės atėnai, Kreivės magazine, and Poetry Spring anthologies. Bagdonaitė’s second book Tracks_in_the_grass was published in 2022 and short-listed by the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore among the Top 12 Most Creative Books of 2022 and the Top 5 Poetry Books of 2022.

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reflections on belonging

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Graphic Novels

Dovile Bagdonaite, I Saw the great Wave off Kanagawa in a Paris bookshop, paper, 2020.

Poems from the poetry book “Tracks in the Grass” (Takeliai žolėje)

Translated by Rimas Uzgiris

 

 

Academic Drawing

Remember how that happened in our drawing class?
We don’t greet the teacher anymore, even though
his dog was beautiful. It was a boycott from both sides.

In front of the scribbled walls we conspired,
sitting on the windowsills, gazing across the street
toward the exhibition hall – people live out there
while we sweat in practice here with ever-dulling pencils,
our bones and muscles getting cold in the hatch marks,
gelling into head cheese. It’s the day before Christmas, we should
be cutting snowflakes, but instead we’re burning our drawings,
later, we’re brain-washed by speeches about the zeitgeist
and we believe every word of our sensei.
At night we don’t make love, but sketch,
and press out our monotype cheese.
The one who told us that thickly painted paintings
fall and thinly painted paintings flake works as a broker.
His paintings did actually fall from their nails,
being so heavy – with more layers than Rome.

That day, the model shat himself and wiped his feces
over the bathroom walls. A weekend. It smelled
on all floors. No one was so saintly as to
wash it off. Who says art school is easy
when you’re constantly wading through shit?

So many nails in the wall. So many more
to come, if only we can stay on our feet.
Now I’m gazing back from the exhibition hall,
wondering how those walls don’t crumble and fall.
Life is on the boil over there – thank God,
I’m finally done.

 

 

Comfort is a Trap

Urban planners
drawing the lines of streets
form the patterns of thoughts
of the people who will live there.

To which city should I surrender, you ask?
To which architect’s imagination?
Don’t walk over the grass.
Don’t spray paint the walls at night.

I am the water running down gutters,
the sound of conversations echoing off walls.
Isn’t it beautiful? I ask,
The things that bind us.

 

 

My Window in the Rain

Dovile Bagdonaite 03 My Window in the Rain

 

 

Cyclist

I am that midnight cyclist
riding past the lovers kissing
on the street of a bedroom neighborhood
who with the flying bugs
are covered by a streetlamp’s light,
covered by the sweat of a summer evening
starting to cool.

That’s how the movie ends, the one that’s not about me.

I remember making out with a girl
who was so hopelessly in love with me
she came to my hometown to celebrate
my birthday, there on a bench by the train station
very late, after the invasive party of clubbers
from the capital had left –
the first rays of dawn, her tobacco-scented leather jacket,
its soft creak and squeak, ASMR tingling
as our hands explored each other – because parents,
relatives, friends, priests, and teachers could have
seen us as they rode to market, but
she looked like such a pretty little boy
that maybe no one
would have known.

I am that accidental cyclist
bombing wedding photos as couples pose
on park benches. Later, Povilas
the photographer will photo-shop me out
like taking a fly out of beetroot soup.

Riding my bike, I remember how
she said seeds are a miracle because
from such little pimples full trees will explode.
And isn’t the water uncanny, she asked,
that always in a river flows?

How strange it is, I said,
that we’re sitting under a maple cooking an egg
on your Primus stove,
and it’s not sticking.
For such there was no sequence
of seed to shoot –
but more like the opposite.

I am the cyclist
swooshing down Main Street,
hopelessly in love,
wind caressing my legs,
wearing shorts – see me ride.

 

 

My Love’s Nipple

Dovile Bagdonaite 04 My Loves Nipple

 

 

A poem my mother wrote and all that was left for me was to fix the mistakes

Is the demonstration over already?
I think I saw you with a flag on your shoulder.

I watched the whole procession.
You all seemed
rather pathetic
in those pink masks.

And some kind of Indian
music. You looked like sheep
being led
to slaughter.

Just kids and a few thirty-
somethings. Every other one
from Russia or Belarus.

Strange how you’re afraid
of Corona but not of
AIDS.

So was it really you
with that flag?

Yes, Mom, I was marching,
and before that on the train
I watched metal-heads apply
purple lipstick.

Train conductors in blue suits
punched their tickets and smiled
pleasantly as if they had just descended
from heaven.

The aggressive voices of football fans
contained the same green color
as the stripes on the police vans.

Splattered egg yolks –
like the lacquered nails
raised high by angry women
justifiably afraid that the gays would take their men –
did not reach their targets,
were not even sent in the right direction.

And there was that paramedic in a red uniform
applauding because we’ve been healthy since 1973.

I’m alright, Mom, doing just fine.

 

 

Paris is a Boat, This Poem is an Anchor

After “The Moon is a Pill” by Aušra Kaziliūnaitė

paris is a boat
where a fisherman has hung a bucket on his pole
and sits by the eddies of the metro, fishing for cents

paris is a boat
where in islands of sunlight lounging sailors
chat up yellow canaries in white cages

paris is a boat
where tent camps are unfurled at night
while sails are hoisted made of the same thing

paris is a boat
where diogenes, docking his raft
by the corner of the bridge, smokes grass,
a rose in a metal vase, fancy plates
set out for what passers-by might bring

paris is a boat
where goldfish swim in the flower market

paris is a boat
where whale skeletons hang in galleries

paris is a boat
whose decks are the edges of islands in the seine

paris is a boat with freshly painted window grates
and lebanese cedar for a mast

paris is a boat and the lighthouse of the eiffel tower
rips through the sky as we sail – this park
is open 24-7, and even the rats are here

scuttling across the pathways
as they would on a ship’s deck

 

 

Poem brushed by a finger

Dovile Bagdonaite 05 Poem brushed by a finger

 

 

 

 

 

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