The Balance of 2020

Dear friends!

As always, at year’s end, people want to sit down at the table, take a deep breath, and calmly list everything that has been done during the past twelve months. Let us not be an exception! 🙂

The first half of the year (and some time before) was spent actively preparing for the June 16 event, the big conference dedicated to James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and other Bloomsday activities. In the beginning we had not anticipated that so much would happen, how many interesting acquaintances and new ideas Bloomsday would bring, continuing until the end of the year, and,  as it seems now, indefinitely.

The main theme of the conference was – should there be a new translation of “Ulysses”? The first translation and publication was in Sweden, 1960, and though an improved version by the same translator Dzintars Sodums in Latvia came out in 2012, the question was – does not the book merit a fresh rendition in the Latvian language?

Initially, the idea of organizing these events came from one person – Atis Lejiņš, who soon inspired a few more people with his zeal. The first initiative group of the conference was Džerijs Šterns (a specialist in new media), professor and Dr.habil.philol. Andrejs Veisbergs, and journalist and writer Mike Collier, reponsible for the walk through Riga Old Town and readings of “Ulysses” along the way.

The initiative soon bloomed into a full-scale literary conference on June 16, despite the unexpected (we thought naively at the time – very tough) restrictions imposed by the virus pandemic. The Rector of the University of Latvia, professor Indriķis Muižnieks kindly put at our disposal an auditorium in the House of Sciences building.

In addition to those already mentioned, the conference participants were – professor Ojārs Lāms, meritorious writer Alberts Bels, literary editor Arturs Hansons, lecturer Lauma Terēze Lapa, poet Krista Anna Belševica. And professors in folklore and music Valdis and Rūta Muktupāveli, who, at the conclusion, gave a musical performance of Irish and Latvian songs.

The event was also supported by the Ambassador of Ireland Jim Hennesy, the head of the Irish-Latvian Chamber of Commerce Ilze Krēsliņa and (in absentia) the writer Nora Ikstena. There was also a surprise for the audience – the writer and translator Ieva Lešinska-Geibere read the first chapter of her upcoming new translation of “Ulysses”.

Mike Collier then proceeded to lead the audience from the House of Sciences on the Bloomsday walk stopping at significant points for readings from “Ulysses”.

The final stop was the Irish pub “Paddy Whelan’s” (thanks to it’s administrator Edijs Bērziņš!), where intense discussions about “Ulysses” and other Irish and Latvian cultural issues continued with breaks enjoying the “Ceili Rue” group of Latvian Irish dance professionals perform under the leadership of Rūta Kapustaite.

The full content of the June 16 conference is available on, as well as on our Youtube account. Yes, and as a definitely significant event after the conference, we should mention the fact that Atis Lejiņš became the Chairman of the new board of the Irish Cultural Center.

As already mentioned, we did not rest with arms folded. Very soon – on August 13, we invited Bloomsday friends and other interested people to gather again in the cozy courtyard of the Irish pub “Paddy Whelan’s”, where a dance and song event took place with the participation of the dance group “Ceili Rue”, the musical group from Aizkraukle “Tieši tā” and musician Aldis Pūtelis , who at the DJ desk taught the audience a short course in Irish music 🙂  Watch this video to see the fun.

Shortly afterwards, we started inviting those interested to the opening of the English translation of the Joycean novel “Insomnia” written by our friend Alberts Bels, on October 24 – within the framework of the Riga Book Festival at the Latvian National library. However, as the constraints of the pandemic intensified, the event had to be cancelled and replaced by an online event on 11 December. Later, because restrictions on assembly were further increased, plans had to be changed once again. But we were unstoppable! 🙂 A little later, the work done by the translator Jade Will of the book “Bezmiegs” – “Insomnia”, was presented in the form of a video and Zoom conversation recordings; it is, of course, viewable on Youtube in English and Latvian.

In short – that’s all. But along the way – we will meet at the various events and another activities in 2021. And, of course, most definitely on June 16! 🙂

Best regards,
Džerijs Šterns
“Bloomsday Latvia”

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Bloomsday jeb 16. jūnijs ir diena, kad risinās Džoisa romāna “Uliss” darbība, kuras galvenais varonis ir Leopolds Blūms. Šajā datumā 2020. gadā organizējām "Ulisam" veltītu konferenci un stilizētu Blūma dienas pastaigu Rīgā. Aicinām mūsu turpmāko pasākumu iecerēm sekot FACEBOOK!

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