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B. Brazdzionis, 95; Lithuanian Poet

July 15, 2002|From Associated Press

Bernardas Brazdzionis, a Lithuanian American poet who gave voice to hundreds of thousands of emigres during decades of Soviet occupation of his native country, has died. He was 95.

Brazdzionis died at his Los Angeles home Thursday after a long illness, said a granddaughter, Roberta Trotman.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus issued a statement in tribute to Brazdzionis, who emigrated to the West as Soviet troops occupied the Baltic Sea coastal nation in 1944 and whose poetry often focused on the plight of his homeland under communist rule.

"We have lost a prominent man whose life and creations fatally coincided with the tragic events of the Lithuanian nation and the years of longing for freedom," Adamkus said.

While Brazdzionis already was an established poet during Lithuania's first period of independence in 1918-1940, his stature increased in exile.

"He reacted to exile with fiercely patriotic verse in which the outrage against the injustice to his nation and defiance of tyranny raised to a highly emotional, almost hysterical pitch," said literary critic Rimvydas Silbajoris.

Born in 1907 in the northeastern village of Stebeikeliai, Brazdzionis settled permanently in the United States in 1949.

He wrote or edited about 50 books, including children's books and poetry collections. He also edited several periodicals about Lithuanian literature.

In addition to his granddaughter Trotman, Brazdzionis is survived by his wife, Aldona; a son, Algis; a sister, Maryte Dagys; seven other grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter.

Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday at St. Casimir's Catholic Church in Los Angeles. He will be buried in Kaunas, Lithuania.

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