Poet, prose writer and political figure Preç Zogaj (b. 1957) was born in Manatia in Lezha District. He studied language and literature at the University of Tirana and thereafter worked as a journalist and publisher. Zogaj played a significant role in the democratic movement in Albania in 1990 and served as Minister of Culture in the “stability government” of June 1991. Since that time, he has been active both as a writer and as a politician. Among his more recent publications are poetry collections: Qielli i Gjithkujt, (Everyone’s Sky), Kalimi (The Passing), and Pas Erës së Re (Following the New Era), Gjallë Unë Pashë (I Saw Alive), Nuk Ndodh Asgjë veç Dashurisë (Nothing Happens but LOVE), Ngjarje në tokë (Occurrence on earth) Fundi, një Fëmijëri Tjetër (The End, Another Childhood); and the works in prose: Shetitorja (The Promenade) and Pa histori (Without History); and the study Paradhoma e një Presidenti (The President’s Antechamber) Fillimet (The beginnings) . His works have been translated into French and Italian.
He has been awarded the Penda e Argjendtë (Silver Pen) award in 2000 for his poetry volume Kalimi (The Passing) and in 2008 the Lasgush Poradeci award for his poetry collection Gjallë unë Pashë (I Saw Alive).
Title: Ngjarje në tokë (Occurrence on earth)
Place of Publication: Tirana
Year of Publication: 2011
Publisher: Tirana Times & AIIS
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“It is a poem with feeling. It has the temperature of life, of humanity.” (Visar Zhiti)
As a poet, Zogaj is profoundly in love with Albanian distinctive natural beauty, rugged mountains, and picturesque Adriatic coastline. He is intensely interested in the social, economic and political aspect of his country. As a result, a fair amount of the cultural substance of this background is infused into his verse. (Gjekë Marinaj)
Occurrence on earth, translated and published in English by the Center for Translation Studies of The University of Dallas, Texas (USA), speaks to the collective experience of his people during the period leading up to and immediately following the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Zogaj’s verses, composed between 1989 and 2008, present the haunting introspection of a people just emerging from decades of life under one of the world’s most isolated and repressive dictatorship.
I TOOK SORROW BY THE HAND
I took sorrow by the hand,
Went to drown it in the river,
But the stream was too shallow.
Tossed it over my shoulder like a sack,
Went to throw it from a cliff top,
But the ground was too near.
Then I swaddled it in a cradle,
Two days and nights I rocked it,
But it wouldn’t fall asleep.
Now I wander the streets,
With sorrow on my face:
Forgive me, I say to all.
THE SISTER OF JESUS
People were dying,
Seasons getting killed.
Women with hungry children at their bosoms,
Waiting in line, in silence answering,
Destroying wisdom itself.
I thought only of you.
Back and forth, back and forth.
The sea besieged the bay chasing the clouds,
Like the Jel mountains pursued the deer
In a dream that I had from forgotten time.
The nights would fall, the memories, the leaves.
My future Decembers, what I had left,
Were falling on top of each other faster than the time
Of this planet.
From a mountain defiled
My dear grandma kept signaling,
As if she wanted me to turn my head
Toward the old snake that menaced me from behind.
Get away! Get away! Get away!
I thought only of you.
Only of you.
Only of you.
Were you the sister of Jesus,
Spirit made of matter,
Thought, illness that changes systems ?!
The extract is translated from the Albanian by Gjekë Marinaj