Photo by Māris Zemgalietis
Born in 1958 in Dobele, Zandere graduated from the Philosophy department of the University of Latvia in 1981. Inese Zandere read philosophy and sociology at the Latvian State University and worked as an editor of the Avots Publishing House and Diena daily newspaper as well as the editor of a children’s newspaper in 1987-1990. She is one of the founding editors of the Rīgas Laiks magazine who has been at the center of Latvia’s intellectual life since its first issue in 1993. Inese Zandere is also one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of the Liels un mazs publishing company. She is a board member of the Latvian Writers Union and the Latvian Writers Association.
Inese Zandere has published 3 collections of poems for grownups and 15 poetry and fairytale books for children. As Pēteris Bankovskis, a Latvian cultural critic, writes of her work: “Zandere’s poetry, particularly her children’s poems, belongs to the aesthetics of the New Simplicity: she uses refined and deliberate means to create the effect of ostensible simplicity and very direct emotional appeal.”
Inese Zandere’s book of poems for adults Melnās čūskas maiznīca (The Black Snake’s Bakery) (2003) received Ojārs Vācietis Award and also Diena Annual Culture Award, as well as the national 2004 Literature Award. Inese Zandere received a Culture Ministry Award for the contribution to development of children’s literature (2007) and the Three Star Order – the highest state award of the Republic of Latvia (2008). The author is an engaged and creative member of the IBBY –Latvia and an eager participant of the reading promotion program. Zandere’s Iekšiņa un āriņa (Innies and Outies) (2002) book of poems for children, which has already experienced four editions, received particular acclaim both among her readers and literary critics, winning her four litterary awards of childrens’ literature, including the national 2003 Literature Award. In a survey conducted by the Culture Ministry in 2006 with the purpose of selecting 100 books that represent ‘the gold standard of Latvian literature’, Inese Zandere’s Innies and Outies was the only children’s book published in the 21st century that was named as one of the 100.
The Children’s Jury (part of the children’s reading promotion program) has given awards to four books by Inese Zandere: Adventures of Pingus Posts, Sister and Brother, What Mr. Rooster Told (2007, 2008, 2009). Her poems, fairy tales, plays and scripts for children’s educational events have been turned into theatre productions by four Latvian theatres, the Latvian National Opera and the Radio Theatre of the Latvian Public Radio, as well as published in audio format. Many poems inspired composers to compose songs and several poems have been turned into animated films.