Photo by Vladimir Svetlov

Orbīta publishing house has released an anthology of poetry «divas otrās» (Two Seconds in Latvian) by poet Semyon Khanin. The bilingual edition, both in Latvian and Russian, was designed by Estere Betija Grāvere. Referring to the title, the book is made of two parts, which open on both sides by means of a special construction, which allows the reader to also experience a small miracle.

Stories Editorial December 7, 2023

Māris Salējs, the editor of the book, says: «Semyon Khanin’s latest book of poetry, «divas otrās», is as delicate as life and language can be. And out of this refinement is born the humour of being. A light and meaningful absurdity.»


The attention to detail and the joyful lightness are also reflected in the design of the book, which is constructed like a magic wallet. The book consists of two sides, one in Latvian and one in Russian, connected by ties, between which the reader can keep a special photograph or bring some cash along. This structure allows the two parts of the book to be joined without a fixed flap and also to witness a small miracle: the objects placed in the middle, almost by magic, move from one side of the book to the other when the book is opened and closed. This process is certainly easier to see than to describe, and Estere Betija Grāvere has included a graphic in the book that shows how the magic wallet works.

The designer points out that the design of «divas otrās» was the most technically challenging book design project she has worked on. «The publication has definitely been one grand collaborative effort between myself and Khanin, the paper manufacturer Arctic Paper, and the two printing houses involved. We spent several months in the process putting our heads together to make sure it would hold together and not lose the most important thing — the function of the book. We worked with two different printing houses: Jelgavas Tipogrāfija printed the book, while Riga Prints put it together by hand. I wish readers not to lose themselves too long in the translation of the book’s structure but to focus on Haņins’ poetry,» says Estere Betija.


Books published by Orbīta are available in the bookstores Globuss, Jānis Roze, and Bolderāja, in the gallery Istaba, as well as on the online platform