Azem Shkreli

Blood of the Quill

Selected poetry from Kosova in a bilingual, English-Albanian edition Edited and translated by Robert Elsie and Janice Mathie-Heck Green Integer 173 ISBN 978-1-933382-91-3 Green Integer, Los Angeles 2008 264 pp. FROM THE INTRODUCTION Azem Shkreli was born on February 10, 1938, in the village of Shkrel in the Rugova highlands near Peja in western Kosova. He lost his mother when he was only two years old, and was brought up by his grandmother who also died when he was still a young boy. Nevertheless, he had a secure and stable childhood. After his elementary education in the village of Nakëll, he attended secondary school in Prishtina, from which he graduated in 1961. He then went on to study at the university in Prishtina and graduated in 1965 with a diploma in Albanian language and literature. As a student, Shkreli had begun writing for the daily newspaper Rilindja and served as secretary for the Kosova Writers Union. From 1960 to 1975 he worked as director of the People’s Provincial Theatre (Teatri Popullor Krahinor) in Prishtina. For a time, he was also a member of the executive board of the Writers Union of Yugoslavia. In 1975 Shkreli became director of the Kosova Film Studios (“Kosovafilm”) - a post he held until he was expelled by the new Serb administration in 1991. The poet was intensely preoccupied with the well-being of Kosova. His primary desire was to devote himself to the cause of his people’s basic human rights and liberation. He spent some time in Germany in the 1990s, as his wife was ill and needed medical treatment there which she could not receive in Kosova. He chose, nonetheless, not to stay abroad with his family, but to return to Prishtina, where he lived alone. This was a difficult decision for him to make, but he knew that he had no other choice but to honour it. When invited for a three- month visit to Villa Waldberta in Bavaria in 1993, he grew restless and permitted himself to stay for barely six weeks. “...For four nights I have endured a stone, Kosova, dripping away” (from the poem Villa Waldberta) Shkreli toiled tirelessly, and never lost sight of the goal of freedom and independence for his fellow Kosovar Albanians. Tragically, he did not live to see his dream come to fruition. On May 25, 1997, he passed away at Prishtina airport just after setting foot on his homeland soil at the conclusion of a visit to Germany.   TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction: In the Highlands of Rugova - a Retrospective on the Poetry of Azem Shkreli From the volume “I Know a Word of Stone” (E di një fjalë prej guri), 1969 Promise Inspiration Four Pieces of Advice for Myself Odin’s Chalice The Lake At Saint Naum’s Simple Things Before the Elegy Instead of Good-bye With Migjeni Mothers Legend Tale Advice From the volume “From the Bible of Silence” (Nga Bibla e heshtjes), 1975 The River In Amongst the Ears of Corn Drunken Song Dukagjinish The Cliff Verse The Words Mass The Bird Over Europe Blue Meditation Lullaby Sallow Motifs The Death of the Highlander The Rock Spring of Martin Boga From the volume “The Song of the Owl” (Kënga e hutinit), 1986 Obituary for a Bird Conversation with the Shkrelis Monument to Mic Sokoli Song of the Owl Cockeyed Day Second Book of Silence Birth Black Bird Head of Hair of a Contemptuous Age Before the Game Excavations Rugova Fourth Day Portrait The Broken Clock A Tale about Us March of the Larvae Still Life The Toast Magic From Friday’s Diary If there is no Lightning Unnoted Thirsty Song Frightened Light Evil Flower Anathema Waiting The End of Waiting Dead Poets Notes at Night, 1 Notes at Night, 2 Notes at Night, 3 Note on Bureaucrats Pre-electoral Note Note on Silence Note on Nothing From the volume “The Night of the Parrots” (Nata e papagajve), 1990 Diary at Night Intermediate Time Exile Wolf’s Spoor Nettle Seed Before the Journey Requiem On the Ocean Time to Go From the volume “Lyrics with Rain” (Lirikë me shi), 1994 Archaeology Illyrian Chronicle Report from the South Lyrics on Freedom Departure of the Migrants Night of the Migrants Letter to the Fatherland Emigration The Light of Separation Chrysanthemum Road Narcissus After the Wars Painting Violence Prayer for Them The Drin Shkodra At Waterloo Villa Waldberta Esat Mekuli Martin’s Stone If I Become a Mountain Project From the volume “Birds and Stones” (Zogj dhe gurë), 1997 The Albanians Arms as Trophies The Sword The Peoples of the Balkans Conversation with the Neighbours Song with Friends Song of Shame Bibliography
Robert Elsie