Eugen Berg – avant-garde predecessor, the impossible man from Riga
Following the renderings of Michael Kuzmin published by the online magazine Punctum, on 1 March, 2017 the editorial board of the magazine was surprised by an email from Russia. The person behind it was Marina Kamenetskaya (Марина Каменецкая), a researcher interested in the biography and works of Kuzmin; in her email, she referred to a letter written by Kuzmin to Eugen Berg (Eižens Bergs in Latvian) in Riga, in 1920. She was willing to get more information about the mysterious Latvian, whom Kuzmin’s lover, the Lithuania-born poet Jurij Jurkun described, allegedly in his diaries, as the “dandy clown”, “pretentious loadwriter” and “copycat”. The intrigued “research group” followed a trail to find themselves in a tenement house in Riga, where the group met an unrelated-to-the-Berg-family tenant, who had saved, according to her, his “antique legacy”. It was unbelievable material – proof of a surprisingly versatile poet from Riga linked to the Acmeist literary group in early 20th century Russia with a particular interest in Western avant-garde movements, especially, Dadaism.
The connections of Eugen Berg linking him to Russian and European literature and art (impact of the Suprematist aesthetics on his visual poems is undeniable) community, unfold a new page in the history of Latvian literature – avant-garde was present in the literature of early 20th century and was appreciated by famous foreign poets and artists. There are more riddles than clear answers in the story of Eugen Berg; his footprints in the history of Latvian literature are close to none. Visitors are presented with the roughly studied discovery, but the research group intends to continue its work on the biography puzzle of Eugene Berg. A pretentious loadwriter or an excellent addition to Latvian literature, you decide.
V. Eksta, A. Ostups, E. Pelšs, K. Vērdiņš, A. Madris, R. Ķirķis, L. Brokāne