Luljeta Lleshanaku's Negative Space shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize

Luljeta Lleshanaku's Negative Space shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize


Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku has published two titles with Bloodaxe. Her most recent book, Negative Space, published by Bloodaxe Books in 2018, was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation and its translation, by Ani Gjika, has now been shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize 2019.

The authors of the seven shortlisted books — four International and three Canadian — will be invited to read in Toronto at Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory on 5 June 2019 at 7.30 pm. The two winners, announced on Thursday 6 June, will each be awarded $65,000.

Judges’ Citation:  “With a lesser known original language, the more precious the gift of translation!  Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Negative Space offers a rare glimpse into contemporary Albanian poetry.  Effortlessly and with crisp precision, Ani Gjika, herself a poet, has rendered into English, not only the poems in Negative Space, but also the eerie ambience which resonates throughout the book, the deep sense of impermanence that is one of the many consequences of growing up under severe political oppression.  ‘Negative space is always fertile.’  Opening trauma’s door, we’re met by a tender and intelligent voice with stories illuminating existence in a shared humanity, thus restoring dignity.  In a world fractured by terror and violence, Lleshanaku’s poetry is infinitely exciting, soothing us, its citizens.”

More on the Griffin Poetry Prize website here.


Negative Space draws on two recent collections published in Albania, Almost Yesterday (2012) and Homo Antarcticus (2015), and follows Haywire: New & Selected Poems, her first UK selection published by Bloodaxe in 2011, a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation which was shortlisted for the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize in 2013.


‘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

Read Michael Hofmann's full piece on Lleshanaku's poetry in the London Review of Books of 4 April 2019 here.

[09 April 2019]

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