K'alandadze, Ana (1924—)

views updated

K'alandadze, Ana (1924—)

Georgian poet whose first poems, melodious and impressionistic, were published in 1945 and reflected a people's yearning for peace after many years of war. Name variations: Ana Kalandadze. Born in 1924 in the valley of Khidistavi in the Gurian region of western Georgia; daughter of a scientist (father) and a teacher (mother).

Published six volumes of poetry (1953–85); active during the Soviet era in both literary and political organizations.

Located south of the Caucasus mountains and east of the Black Sea, Georgia has a long and proud history. A high level of civilization had already been achieved when St. Nino introduced Christianity in the 4th century. The earliest known texts in the Old Georgian language date back to the 5th century. One of the more striking aspects of Georgian culture has been its capacity for absorbing the influence of the powerful civilizations on its borders, and then transforming these traditions into something distinctly Georgian. Throughout the history of Georgia, poets have always played an important role in national life. Many of the nation's great writers were also public figures, and even such renowned kings as David IV (known as David the Builder, 1089–1125), Temuraz (late 1600s) and Vakhtang VI (1700s) were often as respected for the quality of their writings as for their courage in battle or wisdom in dispensing justice.

Ana K'alandadze was born in the Georgian region of Guria where she was influenced as a child by the area's natural beauties and cultural traditions, including the Gurian folk dialect. In 1941, she moved to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, to study at the university. By the time she graduated in 1946 with a degree in Caucasian languages, she had already become a literary sensation. While still a student, K'alandadze had been discovered by the poet Simon Cikovani, who insisted that she give a reading of her verse at a meeting of the Writers' Union. By 1945, her poems were appearing in newspapers and magazines.

The years immediately following the Soviet victory over fascism in 1945 were a period of hope for the future as a war-weary nation looked forward to a time of peaceful reconstruction. K'alandadze's lyrical poems appealed to young and old, presenting simple, eternal images of snow-capped mountain peaks, puppies swaying on their wobbly legs, and a shy girl holding a bunch of violets in her hand. To a public which was daily inundated with propaganda, these poems were refreshing in their lack of message about the triumphs of Socialism or other elements of indoctrination. The poet's deep love of nature was evident in her lyrics, which were not intended, however, to provide literal descriptions of landscapes or vistas; instead, her poetry helped readers experience a general, sensual perception of reality. Nature in K'alandadze's literary universe has its own animate personality:

The wood has thrown off its shroud,
Birches slowly step along the road.
Somewhere wild puppies wake up
And set off along quiet paths.

After achieving great literary success in her early 20s, K'alandadze continued to write poems over the next decades, publishing her first collection of verse in book form in 1953. Five more volumes, all of them simply entitled Poems, would appear in print over the next three decades. She became an active member of the Georgian Writers' Union in 1946, serving on its important organizing committee, and also became a member of the editorial board of the union's journal, Literary Georgia. Not only a literary personality but also public figure, K'alandadze was active in the political life of Georgia's capital, being elected twice to the Tbilisi City Council, and three times to the Tbilisi Workers' Council. She was also a scholar and devoted much of her time to working as a lexicographer on the ongoing publication of the Georgian National Dictionary, a project of the Linguistics Institute of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

In a 1985 interview, K'alandadze stated that the inspiration that sparked her poetry remained essentially a mysterious force:

I don't know how it comes or what makes it come. … Sometimes I'm just walking in the street, and a poem will strike me. It always comes very suddenly. And I walk along and memorize the images and the lines that come to me, and when all the lines and possible variations are clearly in my mind, then and only then do I begin to write it down. … We're lucky we don't know how we write poems, I think.


Gvetadze, Manana. "Anna Kalandadze, 'Poems'," in Soviet Literature. No. 4, 1985, pp. 181–182.

Osborne, Karen Lee. "Ana K'alanddze and Lia St'urua: Two Contemporary Georgian Poets," in The Literary Review: An International Journal of Contemporary Writing. Vol. 30, no. 1. Fall 1986, pp. 5–16, 21–23.

Pynsent, Robert B., and S.I. Kanikova, eds. Reader's Encyclopedia of Eastern European Literature. NY: HarperCollins, 1993.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia