Luljeta Lleshanaku

luljeta-lleshanaku Luljeta Lleshanaku was born in Elbasan, Albania. She studied Albanian Philology & Literature at the University of Tirana and later she attended an MFA Program in Warren Wilson College, USA She was a fellow of “International Writing Program”, University of Iowa, in 1999 and had a fellowship from the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2008-2009.  She is the author of seven volumes of poetry in Albania and seven other volumes published in foreign languages, such as: Haywire; New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, London, 2011), Fresco (New Directions, USA, 2002),  Fëmijët e natyrës (Child of Nature) (New Directions, USA, 2010), Kinder der Natur (Edition Korrespondenzen, Austria, 2010), Dzieci natury ( Stowo / Terytoria Obraz, Poland, 2011), Antipastorale (LietoColle, Italy 2006), Lundo en sep Tago (Esperanto, Poland, 2013). She is the winner of Crystal Vilenice 2009 international award, Silver Pen 2000 award, Author of the Year award from the Book Fair of Tirana, 2013, Kult 2013 award and the winner of the Book Fair of Pristina, 2013. She was a finalist for the The Corneliu M Popescu Prize 2013 award in the UK and a 2011 finalist for BTBA (Best Translated Book Award) in the USA. With her Polish publication, she was nominated for The European Poet of Freedom international award, in Gdansk, Poland, in 2012.


pothuajse-djeTitle: Pothuajse Dje  (Almost Yesterday)  

Place of publication: Tirana

Year of publication: 2013

Publisher: Ombra GVG

Genre:  Poetry

ISBN: 978-99906-054-9

© all rights reserved to the author  and “Ombra GVG” Publishing House





“…We feel blessed that Ms. Lleshanaku has invited us to “the takeoffs and landings/on the runway of her soul.” Dana Jennings, New York Times, July 22, 2010

“Hers are certainly poems about history, politics and power…But Lleshanaku is also original. When she turns her attention to love, the sense of human fate is unsparing. 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, 23 September 2011

“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, Poetry Nation Review 205, Volume 38 Number 5, May – June 2012



In the village nestled between two mountains

the news always arrives one month late,

cleansed in transit, glorified, mentioning only the dead who made

it to paradise,

and a coup d‘état referred to as ‘God‘s will‘.


Spring kills solitude with solitude, imagination

the sap that shields you from your body. Chestnut trees

awaken, drunken men

lean their cold shoulders against a wall.


The girls here always marry outsiders and move away

leaving untouched statues of their fifteen-year-old

selves behind. But the boys bring in wives from distant villages,

wives who go into labor on heaps of grass and straw in a barn

and bear prophets.

Forgive me, I‘d meant to say ‘only one will be a prophet‘.

The others will spend their lives throwing stones

(that is part of the prophecy, too).


At noon on an autumn day like today

they will bolt out of school like a murder of crows stirred by the

smell of blood and chase the postman‘s skeleton of a car

as it disappears around a corner, leaving only dust.


Then they will steal wild pears from the ‘bitch‘s yard‘

and nobody will stop them. After all, she deserves it. She‘s sleeping

with two men. Between the pears in one boy‘s schoolbag

lies a copy of Anna Karenina.

It will be skimmed over, impatiently, starting on the last page

cleansed and glorified, like old news.



Human existence is like a dead language

of which only an expression, a quotation, or a single word remains.


But a man without sons is a mutation.

His name will move from one ear to another by a clean female whisper

voiced like a dream without conflict

difficult to remember after night‘s end.

Six daughters, each birth a failure

like the gold prospector

who brings home only silk and medicinal herbs.


Without a son in the family,

there is no river to carry the toxic remains

of his black and white anger,

no one to foresee war in the bones of the ram

sacrificed for dinner;

no wars, no births or deaths

when life gets lazy in peacetime.


His cell is a cave

sketched with naive carbon drawings:

the hunter against the beast, the hunter against nature,

until the moment a woman appears around the fire.

Then strength moves from his muscles

to his eyes.

and the angle of the arrow‘s aim shifts.


This is the end of the ice age

the end of clarity.


There is a secret that extinguishes men from the inside

like Dwarf Stars

changing from yellow to white

and then… to black, a smudge across the cosmos.

There is no son to inherit the father‘s secret.…

not the secret itself

but the art of solitude.


The extract is translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli