Jurgita Jasponytė

Lithuania

Jurgita Jasponytė was born in 1981 in Zarasai. She began her studies at Vilnius Pedagogical University in 1999 and went on to receive a BA in Lithuanian philology and an MA in literature. She works as a librarian, raising her daughters Ugne and Jūre Jotvile. Her poetry collection Šaltupė (the name of a Zarasai street, meaning “cold river”) won the Lithuanian Writer’s Union First Book Contest. In 2015, she won the Zigmas Gėlė Prize for best poetic debut.


Jurgita Jasponytė comments on her poetry writing as follows: “I started writing poetry as a child. Writing makes me feel at home with myself in the same way as being a mother does’”. Although the author has been writing for a long time and her poems compiled in the collection “Šaltupė” (The Šaltupė River) were written in the period of almost ten years, she has never acted as an author who is breaking into the literary field in order to establish her identity as a writer. It seems that Jasponytė uses her intuition in poetry as well as in other matters without attempting to apply the “right” strategies. The author tells: “I was once invited to a writing camp in order to deliver creative lectures.  Having understood that I cannot teach others anything and I have nothing to tell them, I felt confused. Simply my attitude is such: I have always endeavoured to do things with no tutorials. Say, I like handicrafts but I am no professional as no one has ever trained me in this field. When I was pregnant for the first time, I decided to knit trousers for my baby but I did not have the slightest idea to learn this from books. So, I took needles and threads and started knitting, in a strange way, as my mother later noticed. I like to improvise.”
The first book by Jasponytė titled Šaltupė (The Šaltupė River) contains a variety of motifs from folklore as well as exotic cultures. The author is interested in the themes of childhood, home love and motherhood. For instance, her maternal experience is imaged by woman rituals of the Oroqen people: “tranquillity / as if somewhere / an Oroqen women sat / on the shore / as if a spell of milk were put / foam from glasses / ruminated / in smithereens / she would deduct / the number of new lives from them (...) tranquillity / like a shawl wraps / severely - / like humidity / which seeps into the bones / which makes walls mouldy / and the walls of veins / like glasses of wine / and the dog-like howling - / tranquillity is such / that you forget / and wait”. Texts by the poet are filled with primordial images of rituals, magic and tales. Jasponytė says: “My fields of interests encompass cultures of various nations, both Lithuanian (the Selonians in particular) with whom I identify myself and foreign, for instance, the Far East. And what is inside me can be noticed in my texts, too. Not only am I a passive observer, but also all this constitutes my way of life. I am interested in folklore.”
Literary Critic Neringa Butnoriūtė has written: “Poems have the power of bringing distant things closer and embracing the ones that are close already. ‘Šaltupė’ (The Šaltupė River) points at the natural existential origins of home and closeness attached to Pagan incantations, Marquez’s Macondo and the naturalness of Indians and Oroqens in Jurgita Jasponytė’s texts. No matter what the author writes, the only thing is borne in mind, namely the penetrating dimension of the old experience rather than exotic insertions and decorations. The process of divisibility is constantly emphasised: while living in the time which attributes social roles to us, we should lean towards the other time which is tribal: “My growing soul splits off / every evening / as I go to bed / it seems to collect wood for the hearth”, “no one walks where I go / only and Indian follows in my footsteps”, “My river, what will you move across? / My river, what will you ford?”. This split refers to getting out of shells and it reminds of the possibility of mythical connection which reflects the mechanism of the eternal circle where the subject finds itself”. 
Another Literary Critic Deimantė Daugintytė has summarised the book as follows: “Jasponytė's writing is very sensitive and gentle, as if she were standing on her tiptoes, fearful of damaging a poem. At the same time, her poetry is very personalised and directed towards the self of the subject which gains its energy from individual childhood memories as well as from the shared cultural vitality. There are numerous pronouns indicating personalism, namely me, my and I, which allow the poems to retain their aesthetic autonomy and do not create any personal or social relations”.
Jasponytė’s poems contain the references to not only dates but also locations as the author usually writes her texts in her home town Zarasai or Vilnius where she has already spent “half of her life”.  When I ask her whether she does not find living in a city tiresome and whether she does not miss anything among concrete walls, the poet answers: “Vilnius is a place where I feel well and I do not consider it some kind of metropolis. Vilnius is rural in a good sense. One can find small unpaved streets and wooden houses just a few steps from the centre. For instance, the Rasos district, where people grow goats and chickens, is pretty close to the centre. I can live in such city. Of course, I would probably have a different opinion if I were to live in a residential area; however, can a residential area be regarded as a city? Still, I associate the city with the centre and the old town.  We live in an old wooden house constructed in the thirties from which I can walk everywhere, like in a village. Therefore, my living conditions are similar to the ones I had in Zarasai. And I do not miss anything here.”
Jasponytė continues walking in the streets of Vilnius on foot, participating in poetry events and often sharing photos as well as posts on the old cultures on Facebook. When asked about her nearest creative plans, she smiles secretly. 

Jurga Tumasonytė