Lina Ramona Vitkauskas (Lithuanian-Canadian-US, b. 1973) is an evaporating language photographer = award-winning cinepoet / poet.
In 2020, her cinepoems placed as a finalist in the Midwest Video Poetry Fest and were selected for the 9th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece (2021). In addition, she received a PEN America Emergency Relief Grant to complete her poetry collection (soon to be visual arts collaboration) Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill.
Her 2019 collection of cinepoems, based upon her chapbook, White Stockings, is a collaboration with visual artist Tess Cortes and placed as a finalist in the Festival Fotogenia of visual poetry (Mexico City); the Newlyn Film Festival (UK) and the Cadence Video Poetry Film Festival (Seattle). They have also been screened at the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) conference at Stanford University as well as at the Ready Freddy Film Festival in Chicago.
She is the author of the poetry books Ministry of Foreign Affairs – MOFA (Secret Airplanes Press, 2018); White Stockings (White Hole Press, 2016); SPINY RETINAS (Mutable Sound, 2014); Professional Poetry (White Hole Press, 2013); A Neon Tryst (Shearsman Books, 2013); HONEY IS A SHE (Plastique Press, 2012); THE RANGE OF YOUR AMAZING NOTHING (Ravenna Press, 2010); Failed Star Spawns Planet/Star (dancing girl press, 2006); and Shooting Dead Films with Poets (Fractal Edge Press, 2004).
She was nominated by Spoon River Poetry Review for an Illinois Arts Council Award and recently published an essay in an anthology dedicated to the poetry of Lithuanian filmmaker and Anthology Film Archives founder, Jonas Mekas, titled Message Ahead: Poets Respond to the Poems of Jonas Mekas (Rail Editions – Brooklyn Rail). She has also performed voice-over narration in the independent documentary film, George: The Story of George Mačiunas & Fluxus, which was directed by Fluxus taxi driver and artist, Jeffrey Perkins, and features Yoko Ono. The documentary has been screened at MoMA as well as in Amsterdam, London, and Vilnius.
Lina is past winner of the Henry Miller Memorial Library Ping Pong Journal Award (selected by Eleni Sikelianos) and of The Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading Award (selected by Brenda Hillman). In 2000, she earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Wright State University, where she participated in a summer workshop with Nikky Finney, the 2012 National Book Award Winner in Poetry.
In 2018, she was a participant in the first-ever World Lithuanian Writers’ Forum (presented by the Lithuanian World Community Organization, the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, and the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore), as well as an anthology contributor for the forum’s master publication, and in 2009, she was nominated by Another Chicago Magazine for an Illinois Arts Council Award for her short fiction.
Lina has served as the Chicago Poetry Correspondent of OmniVerse; as faculty member and marketing manager at the Chicago School of Poetics; as well as the co-editor/designer—with poet Larry Sawyer—of the 20-year-running online literary magazine, milk magazine (featuring Robert Creeley, Wanda Coleman, Ron Padgett, Michael McClure, and Japanese surrealist, Yamamoto Kansuke, among others).
For 15 years, she has been a part of Chicago’s poetry community in many capacities—as a reader, co-curator, collaborator, co-founder, organizer/facilitator, contest judge, and instructor—and has been featured in the following reading series/ projects: Woman Made Gallery, Myopic Books, Danny’s, Chicago Public Radio’s “Chicago Amplified,” Red Rover (@ OUTER SPACE), Series A, Quimby’s, Balzekas Lithuanian Museum, Wĭt Rabbit, Dollhouse Reading Series, 100K Poets for Change, HUMAN MICROPOEM at Occupy Chicago, Discrete, Around the Coyote, Chicago Public Radio’s Future Perfect + New Media, Evanston Public Library, and many more.
WHY EVAPORATING LANGUAGE PHOTOGRAPHER?
We are all evaporating. At this moment. We humans are made of more than 60% water. Water gradually evaporates as it is exposed to oxygen. Over time. We are losing water, shrinking, physiologically, but also, our chronological place in space and time on this physical plane evaporates. Never one moment the same as the next. Moments. Evaporate. Words on paper or screen, are arranged and captured for a moment. Poems exist, but the unique act of word arrangement for that moment in time is fleeting. This why I call myself a language photographer. I liken my poems to photographs, capturing a string of images or moments in that poem so that it may exist in its newly created form for that moment.