The Lithuanian Writers’ Association: Seven Decades of History

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    Benediktas Babrauskas, chairman of the Board of Directors, 1951-1958. Photo by V. Maželis.

    The author Benediktas Babrauskas became the chairman of the Lithuanian Writers’ Association in 1951 and steered the organization until 1958. Dr. Žydronė Kolevinskienė notes that the Association was especially active during the Babrauskas period. During his tenure, it published selected works by Vydūnas, Vincas Krėvė, and Vaižgantas. It also helped to settle the estate of Jurgis Savickis and to handle issues regarding the disposition of the writer’s remains. Under Babrauskas guidance, the Association erected tombstones on the graves of Vydūnas and Juozas Kruminas.

    Audio: Excerpt from Babrauskas’ speech at the LWA Literature Award event, 1958:

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    Greetings from Brazdžionis and Barcus to the chairman of the Association on the occasion of its 20-th anniversary.

    In 1952, the Association celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding. On this occasion, Babrauskas received numerous letters of greeting from chapters of the organization and from some public figures. Sophie Barcus, the producer of a long-running Lithuanian radio program in Chicago, sent a congratulatory telegram. Bernardas Brazdžionis, the chairman of the Boston Lithuanian Writers' Club, wished the Association’s members creative freedom and nobility of spirit as they struggle for Christian, humanistic, and democratic ideals.

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    The fourth issue of the Lithuanian Writers' Bulletin, 1954.

    The Association launched a newsletter, Lithuanian Writers’ Bulletin, which kept the membership up to date on its current activities and events. A total of 26 issues had been released by the end of Babrauskas’ term in 1958.

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    The minutes of the 1954 meeting of the Board of Directors.

    During Babrauskas term of office, a number of members withdrew or were expelled from the organization. Antanas Škėma was ousted in 1953 and Marius Katiliškis left a year later. Kostas Ostrauskas withdrew his membership in 1956. Antanas Kėkštas resigned from the Board of Directors in 1957. Petronėlė Orintaitė left in 1958. Almost at the same time, the organization expelled Sonė Pipiraitė-Tomarienė, for publishing her children's story in Soviet-occupied Lithuania. This significant exodus is reflected in the Association’s archives. The minutes of the Board’s meeting of 1954 show that it accepted the requests of two members, S. Būdavas and M. Katiliškis, to drop the organization.  

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    Antanas Trimakas’ letter of January 5, 1957 to Babrauskas.

    The Association’s archives reveal that it intended to publish a publication, Lithuanian Writers. The publication is mentioned in a letter, dated January 5, 1957, from Antanas Trimakas to the Association’s chairman. In it, Trimakas, a diplomat and public figure, expresses thanks for the invitation to participate in the publication, but regrets that he cannot accept. The plan to publish Lithuanian Writers was not realized.

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    Invitation to the Association’s Literature Award event of 1956.

    While Babrauskas chaired the Association, it assisted in resolving the estate of Jurgis Savickis, who died in France in 1952, and in handling issues related to his remains. Moreover, Savickis was named the recipient of the Association’s literary award of 1956. This is the only time the award was given posthumously.

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    The program of the 10-year anniversary of the death of Balys Sruoga. An envelope addressed to the chairman of the Association, handwritten by historian Dr. Vanda Sruogienė, widow of Balys Sruoga.

    At the end of 1957, the LWA marked the 10-year anniversary of the death of the writer, Balys Sruoga. The event, which took place at the Lithuanian Youth Centre in Chicago, featured a lecture by Jurgis Blekaitis regarding the distinctive features of Balys Sruoga writing and readings from the writer’s various works. There was music and an exhibition dedicated to Sruoga.