Aleksandrs Caks (1901 - 1950)

Photo from the archive of Aleksandrs Čaks Museum


Aleksandrs Čaks, a poet and writer, was born Aleksandrs Čadarainis in Riga in 1901; he died in 1950. Čaks spent the First World War in exile in Russia. After studying medicine at the Moscow University and the University of Latvia, Čaks worked as a teacher in Drabeši. His first poems were published in 1925. During the first period of Latvian independence, before World War Two, Čaks was associated with the literary journals Jaunā Lira (The New Lyre) and Trauksme (Alarm), and the artists’ society Zaļā vārna (The Green Crow). Čaks is the great reformer of Latvian poetry of the 1920s and 1930s. He is famous for his modernist poems about the outlying sections of Riga and the characters who inhabit them. Čaks also wrote an epic poem about Latvian Riflemen, Mūžības skartie (Touched by Eternity), which received the Anna Brigadere Award in 1940. During the last five years of his life, Čaks was forced to write poems in praise of the construction of socialism; these works were nonetheless censured by official criticism. Čaks was also an active critic of theatre, cinema, and sculpture. The Aleksandrs Čaks Memorial Apartment was unveiled at Lāčplēša iela 48/50, in Riga, in 2000. The Čaks Yearbook has been published since 2001, the same year that the Aleksandrs Čaks Prize was established to award those artists who have dedicated their works to the city of Riga, or have researched or popularised Čaks’s own creative works.