Photo by Ilmārs Znotiņš /Diena/
Māra Cielēna is a translator and writer born in an academic family in Riga in 1954. She graduated from the University of Latvia linguistics faculty and worked as a research assistant (1977–1980) in the folklore section of the Literature and Language Institute at the Academy of Sciences. She has been the editor of the publishing houses "Liesma" (1981–1990), "Sprīdītis" (1990–1997) and "Madris" (1997-2002). A member of the Writers’ Union since 2001. Her first poetry publications appeared in the newspaper “Literatūra un Māksla” and her first volume of poetry “A Bit of Warmth, a Bit of Fragrance” followed in 1988. Her work embraces the urban poetic traditions of Latvian literature of the 1920–1930s and she colourfully portrays the historical characters that personify this reality. Her poems emanate a hearty warmth while presenting a descriptive sketch with a plot. She has written many poetry reviews, translated English poets into Latvian and edited a selection of love lyrics in 1999. In the 1990s she turned to children’s literature, publishing poetry and tales. She has received the Ansis Lerhis Puškaitis Prize (1993), the Pastariņa Prize (1999, 2003), the annual Literature Prize of Latvia for the best collection of stories of the year (2000, 2003), the Jānis Baltvilks Children’s Book and Book Art Award (2006, 2011), IBBY Honour List (2000, 2012).