A Lithuanian-Australian writer Kristina Dryža is better known in the world of business and management as one of the most influential futurists, trend forecasters, and business consultants, who worked with companies such as Virgin Group, Microsoft, and British Sky Broadcasting. Kristina says that many still do not know that she is also the author of the novel Grace and the Wind released in 2014. I asked Kristina a few questions about writer’s craft, her first book, and future plans.
– How did you become a writer?
I always loved
to write as a teenager, mainly in my journal, kept from my parents’ prying
eyes. I didn’t really enjoy writing assignments at school or essays at
university. I didn’t like writing to perform, to prove, to justify – for
results. I had more fun crafting messages in Christmas and birthday cards for my
friends, and sharing my overseas travel experiences in postcard form, when
writing postcards was de rigueur in
the pre-internet era.
Why is it important to bring
diaspora authors together? Or perhaps not only diaspora authors but Lithuanian
writers who live in Lithuania and Lithuanian writers who live in diaspora?
The Arts thrive in community. In isolation, an author can push
themselves to create, yes, but to truly realize their full potential they must
be challenged in an inspiring way. The more diverse the ideas that the artists
and writers discuss when they come together, the more intriguing ideas bubble
up – instead of just beer, you get champagne. Writers of the diaspora see
Lithuania from a different perspective, from a bit of distance. Do you know the
fable about the elephant and the blind men? One saw a wall, one saw a rope, one
saw a tree, and one a spear? Only by adding this all together could they
discover an elephant? It is both challenging and inspiring to hear about how
other writers work, where they find peace, how they get through writing blocks,
what themes and ideas matter. There is something about being in a room full of
people who care as much about the perfect word as you do – and then discovering
that person lives across the globe from you – and yet you have similar roots,
you both know the blue of a cornflower, you both remember some adult showing
you as a child how to get to the sharp, bitter scent of a rūta by crushing one
leaf between your thumb and forefinger, you both know the savory taste of dill.
It pulls the world closer, like a drawstring. And what you keep in that secret
sack—that is up to you, but it is nice to know that everyone is carrying some
memories that are all tied together.
On May 5-7, 2019
the First World Lithuanian Writers Forum took place in Vilnius. It was attended
by more than 30 writers, translators and literary critics from fifteen
countries. The program of the forum offered a variety of activities—from literary
readings to the presentation of the anthology of world Lithuanian authors, Exodica, to a book exhibition of the
Lithuanian émigré writers organized by the National Library of Lithuania.
of the Forum aimed at achieving several goals. The first one was to get to know
each other and share different experiences and perceptions of the world. The
event also commemorated the Lithuanian Press Restoration, Language and Book Day.
On May 6, the
participants of the Forum visited the National Library of Lithuania. Jolanta
Budriūnienė, the director of the Documentary Heritage Research Department of
the National Library of Lithuania, presented the writers to a wide range of library’s
activities. She noted that the Library has become a place where more than thousand
various cultural events take place every year and the space for the cultural
diplomacy. “We cooperate with the embassies of the Republic of Lithuania abroad,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. We have broadened
the scope of joint works and projects in the East and West. The library is a unique
place, because it traces the signs of cultural diplomacy. It’s a place where we
systematically collect and house the books of Lithuanian authors published
abroad. Today these publications are an important part of the Lithuanian
documentary heritage,” Budriūnienė said.
The writers who gathered
at the National Library of Lithuania presented the director of the Documentary
Heritage Research Department with their books and publications published abroad
and in Lithuania. Afterwards, the participants of the Forum were given an
extensive tour of the Library.
The Lithuanian World Community, Inc. together with the Lithuanian Writers’ Union and the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore is organizing the first congress of world Lithuanian writers in Vilnius. The event, which will take place on 5-7 May, 2019, will host 50 Lithuanian writers and/or writers of Lithuanian origin who currently live outside Lithuania.
During the event, the participants will meet with Lithuanian
writers. They will visit the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, the Institute of
Lithuanian Literature and Folklore and the Martynas Mažvydas National Library
of Lithuania. Readings will take place during the event. At the end of the
congress, an almanac of the participants’ fiction and poetry will be published.
For the sixth
year in a row, the diaspora researchers and archivists gathered at the National
Library of Lithuania. The aim of the seminar is to bring together researchers
working in the diaspora field, especially students, to give them the
opportunity to share their research, and also to encourage the representatives
of archives and museums to introduce the Lithuanian diaspora collections housed
at their institutions to the broader audience.
The first seminar, entitled “The Young Diaspora Researchers’ Seminar,” today is known under a slightly different name, “The Interdisciplinary Diaspora Researchers’ Seminar.” Currently, the community unites about 30 researchers working in various Lithuanian universities, institutes, museums, archives, and libraries.
Six Perspectives on Diaspora
Six perspectives on diaspora were presented at the sixth event. Ina Ėmužienė, Ph.D., who just recently defended her thesis on Lithuanian radio and TV programs in the US from 1944 to 1990, presented the Lithuanian-American electronic media. In particular she talked about the Lithuanian radio programs that were active in the country in 1944-1990: their frequency, geography, and the circumstances of their establishment. The researcher presented a list of the Lithuanian-American radio programs that ran during that period, stressing that it is not final. She is still discovering new archives, related to the topic she has been researching.
The two-volume monograph Nylon Curtain. Lithuanian Music in the Context of International History of Cold War, by the musicologists, Prof. Rūta Stanevičiūtė, Prof. Danutė Petrauskaitė, and Prof. Vita Gruodytė, was presented at the National Library of Lithuania. The book, published in 2018 by the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, consists of two volumes: a collective monograph, entitled Nylon Curtain. Cold War, International Exchanges and Lithuanian Music and a collection of correspondence, Foreign Correspondence of the Lithuanian Musicians, 1945-1990.
collective monograph, the authors using extensive archival documents gathered
from the state and private archives, as well as published sources, analyze the
channels of the exchange of musical information among the individuals and
institutions in Lithuania and foreign countries that took place during the
Soviet period. They also looked into the reasons that encouraged promoting personal
and transnational relations between the two musical environments divided by the
ideological confrontation of the Cold War, and posed questions, such as: which
ideological, economic, and cultural constraints and differences limited such
exchange and what impact international exchanges had on the national music