Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation
Shortlisted for the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize 2013
‘Luljeta Lleshanaku is a pioneer of Albanian poetry. She speaks with a completely original voice, her imagery and language always unexpected and innovative. Her poetry has little connection to poetic styles past or present in America, Europe, or the rest of the world. And, interestingly enough, it is not connected to anything in Albanian poetry either. We have in Lleshanaku a completely original poet.’ – Peter Constantine
‘Luljeta Lleshanaku’s poems take place in a melancholy landscape of mountain villages, chestnut trees, and collapsing futures where “spring kills solitude with its solitude” and the only emotional expression not considered a sign of weakness is impatience. The place of her poems is like a zero point that can only look out from itself in all directions at once. But the poet looks inward beyond paradox, and, instead of judgment, she finds recognition. In Lleshanaku’s work, geography and soul are charted on the same map. The rhythms of her new poems are expertly managed to enact vulnerability and withdrawal. Her lines stretch out and suddenly retract into fragments with the sensitivity of snail horns.’ – Forrest Gander, citation for the 2009 International Kristal Vilenica Prize
Luljeta Lleshanaku belongs to the first “post-totalitarian” generation of Albanian poets. In Haywire she turns to the fallout of her country’s past and its relation to herself and her family. Through intense, powerful lyrics, she explores how these histories intertwine and influence her childhood memories and the retelling of her family’s stories. Sorrow, death, imprisonment, and desire are some of the themes that echo deeply in Lleshanaku’s hauntingly beautiful poems.
‘Lleshanaku is hardly new on the international scene… but she is new to me. Her combination of plain-spokenness and intelligence would have been welcome at any time; at present… it is indispensable… These are poems of urgency and imagination, seemingly unaware of the reader and the critic, and certainly not playing up to them, uncluttered and for the most part unforced; they carry Lleshanaku into the proximity of the great 20th-century poets of Central and Eastern Europe: Akhmatova, Herbert, Holub, Szymborska, Zagajewski.’ – Michael Hofmann, London Review of Books
'The tyrant's insistence that there is no private realm has the unintended effect of making it necessary to write powerful and durable poems which suffer all the constraints imposed by confinement and yet have something ungovernable in reserve, namely their accuracy.' – Sean O'Brien, The Guardian (To read the full review, click on this link.)
‘The Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku's first British collection is a revelation. The poems are peculiar and sonorous in these translations, full of objects and souls, transformed and given wings in Chagall-like metaphor. Her grand and melancholic opening poem 'Memory' sets the tone for this remarkable collection. Lleshanaku's poetry essentially describes Albanian rural life. Albania, remote and for so long an outcast in Europe, has in Lleshanaku's poetry a static, timeless quality.’ – Sasha Dugdale, PN Review
‘These impressive poems carry a poignance much like the first buds of spring, a mark of survival and insistent life. In this bewildering human world such articulate determination proves again our common faith. Luljeta Lleshanaku speaks to us one and all.’ – Robert Creeley
‘When you close her book, the images don’t leave you. They cleave you open like a leopard’s paw, and enter into you. Once inside they create their own life, a second life, vastly different from the original. What more can we expect from real poetry, from true art?’ – Ridvan Dibra
To read Luljeta Lleshanaku's interview with S.J. Fowler, click on this page of Bloodaxe Blogs.
To read the poems read by Luljeta Lleshanaku in the video below, go to this page of Bloodaxe Blogs.
Luljeta Lleshanaku reads from Haywire
Luljeta Lleshanaku reads four poems: 'Marked' (in both English and Albanian), 'The Mystery of Prayers', 'Monday in Seven Days' (parts 5 and 9) and 'Memory', all from Haywire. Neil Astley filmed Luljeta Lleshanaku at Rathfarnham, Dublin, in March 2010, when she visited Ireland to read at DLR Poetry Now in Dún Laoghaire.