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An evening of Albanian Poetry, SSEES & AAA

On 17th December, the AAA held its final event of the year, an evening of Albanian poetry. The evening was organised by Mirela Xhaferraj, an Albanian language tutor at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).

The evening began with greetings from the Albanian Ambassador HE Mr. Qirjako Qirko, the AAA Chairman Stephen Nash and Ramona Gonczol, Senior Teaching Fellow and coordinator for SSEES’ Short Courses.

Students studying Albanian at SSEES with Mirela Xhaferraj and Mirkena Shqarri-Palluqi then read a selection of poems from Albania and Kosovo. Translations, some done by the students, were shown simultaneously on-screen. Some poems were read by invited guests: HE Mr. Nicholas Abbott, the newly appointed UK Ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo, the AAA’s Chairman Stephen Nash, and author and diplomat Robert Wilton. The evening was opened and closed by Ilirian Zhupa who read two of his own poems: ‘Shumë qenkam rritur’ (Grown up) and ‘Përgatitje për një udhëtim të largët’ (Preparation for a long trip).

The poems were chosen to reflect the historical range of Albanian poetry. Naim Frasheri’s ‘Fjalët e qiririt’ (The Words of the Candle) and Andon Çajupi’s ‘Mëmëdheu’ (Motherland) both belonged to the Albanian National Awakening (Rilindja kombëtare).

We also heard some early twentieth century poems: Migjeni’s ‘Na të birtë e shekullit të ri’ (The Sons of the new-born age), Fan Noli’s ‘Anës lumenjve’ (On river banks) and Lasgush Poradeci’s ‘Dimër’ (Winter). The programme included poems from two of the biggest names in late twentieth century Albanian literature: Dritëro Agolli’s ‘Poemë për babanë e për veten’ (Poem for My Father) and Ismail Kadare’s ‘Edhe kur kujtesa’ (And when my memory).

Modern Albanian poetry was represented by Visar Zhiti, Xhevahir Spahiu, Ali Podrimja and Rrahman Dedaj, the latter two both from Kosovo. The evening also featured four contemporary female poets: Mimoza Ahmeti, Luljeta Lleshanaku, Natasha Lako and Flora Brovina.

Musical interludes were provided by concert pianist Mariela Çingo and world-renowned soprano Ramona Tullumani.

Several poems were chosen because of a personal connection between student and poet. Three are reprinted below with a short introduction. We have also included one of Ilirian Zhupa’s poems, ‘Përgatitje për një udhëtim të largët’ (Preparation for a long trip).


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