Azem Qazimi is an Albanian poet, writer and translator. He was born in Struga, on 6 February 1977. He attended the University of Tirana, studying journalism, and later, earned his master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the Centre of Albanological Studies. Qazimi has published two books of poems Ajri i Kryqëzimit (The Air of Crucifixion), Për Dhuntinë e Mahnitjes (On the Gift of Amazement), as well as two collections of short stories Të Bekuarit, Sfera (The Blessed, the Sphere) and Anatomi e shkurtër e pikëllimit (Brief anatomy of grief). He is the founder and the editor of Helicon literary magazine, and translator of Oscar Wilde, William Faulkner, Wallace Stevens, Jorge Luis Borges, John Banville, Vasko Popa, etc.
Title: Për dhuntinë e mahnitjes (On the Gift of Amazement)
Place of publication: Tirana
Year of publication: 2013
Genre: Collection of poems
© all rights reserved to the author
Azem Qazimi “…comes to us as a world citizen, a traveller looking for beauty, looking for first feelings, looking for pure emotions, which can come only from the unceasing amazement in the face of creation. His book doesn’t try to reach us just as a literary creation, but also undertakes a high, but not impossible mission: to show us new visions, to make us believe that, seen with new eyes… the world appears to us much more beautiful than we thought it was. (…)
Azem Qazimi is one of very few Albanian poets, who… enriches the poetry through a deep spiritual vision, through a very carefully chosen language, with an incomparable poetical ability to… his coevals… He moves humbly in his poetry, without noise and without hullabaloo. He resembles a tree, which germinated at the curb of the street and grows beautiful on its ground…” (Shpëtim Kelmendi)
To my brother
From the beginning our life sought the meaning
and found the fragments.
There were days when childhood was sweet,
the soul pledged tenderness.
Our flesh then became the color of parades
and the talking painted the playground
with cries of triumph.
The air suddenly satiated with the solemn scent
of paper and printing ink,
you’d think it would give birth to the Book.
This new happiness dictated to us words
that rustled like Chinese silk.
Now what’s left of our childhood
are only trees of ashes at the edges of the poem,
all filled with vowels and senility.
Just one final effort,
before dust sets sleep upon things,
before the visible turns into an abyss:
it is the year one thousand nine hundred and forty-one
and my grandfather is written as a graffiti in the war.
He is a dirty shadow, like an oil stain.
He might die
and have everything a man needs:
an empty heart, like a second-hand bookstore.
Meanwhile, pain will have become feasible.
The rosy planet
will smell of bread and doubt.
Later a serious generation will be born,
capable of being saved
from the major conjectures of the heart.
Utopia will be cultivated like a garden plant,
but even thereafter
the man will still be the same lumber cabinet.
And the light, will be born crippled
from his body in mourning.
The extract is translated from the Albanian by Sara Kraja