Dissident Editions



poems of the month

orpheus in soho

a seriously sexy man


measuring my face

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

wine and roses

confession from belgrade

gloss on rilke's
ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa:
a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic






good riddance to mankind

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400 revolutionary maxims

nice men and
  suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper




the three bears

three albanian tales

a little creation story



one not one

home, sweet home no longer

the ivory palace

helen's tower

extortion through e-bay

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

never a pygmy

against money

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

a note on the cathars


londons of the mind
& dealing death to the caspian


a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

the dog from sinope

in britain & america

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

a holy dog
& a dog-headed saint

fools for nothingness

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland & the phallic continuum

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

a small town in france


western values


the problems of translating poetry

an albanian ikon ?

albanian donkeys

the bektashi dervishes

poems by ujko BYK

albanian love-poems

albanian poems of dissidence

albanian poems of exile

recent albanian poems

beyond the albanian experience


horatio morpurgo's albanian trip

albanian short stories

map of albania

the dictator's library





Filmi kanadezo-shqiptar, Gruaja pa krahë'
sapo ka fituar çmimin e argjendtë ‘Remi Award',
si pjesëmarrës në ‘Houston Worldfest 2003' në Teksas.

Shpirti i Shqiperisë

a canadian-albanian film
about the
"sworn virgins" of northern albania





by Mirash Ivanaj, Dalan Luzaj,

Trifon Xhagjika, Namik Mane, Gazmend Elezi

Bilal Xhaferri and Luljeta Lleshanaku

To read this page properly, please ensure that the character encoding
of your browser is not set to the default 'Unicode'.

painting by Tina Negus


Albanian poet, politician and intellectual (1891-1953)


translated by Zana Banci and Anthony Weir
© The Martin and Mirash Ivanaj Foundation



Farewell O life, farewell O world!
Ploughed with poison, soaked with tears,
Ground with flesh, kneaded with blood -
O dreamworld strangling me for food.

Executioners, what is your joy ?
O jailers always watching me,
What kind of heart or soul have you ?
What ‘heart' is you cannot know!

In my whole life I never laughed,
From birth till now just misery
And bitterness, tears and lament -
Such is the time that I have spent.

God, how can you bear to see the ruin
‘Your' creatures make of what you made ?
Or have you handed your control
To any strong man without a soul ?


photo by courtesy of the Ivanaj Foundation


Mirash Ivanaj (born in 1891) was one of two highly-talented brothers who both were members of King Zog's pre-war government. Mirash was for two years the Albanian Minister of Education before being exiled with Zog when Italy annexed Albania in 1938. He was responsible for terminating future dictator Enver Hoxha's scholarship in France - a common enough action in the days when Zog locked up, exiled or assassinated his opponents.
He was born in Podgoritsa (later Titograd) in Montenegro, where, as in Kosova until Miloshevich's time there was a substantial number of Albanian and Turkish speakers. He went to school in Belgrade and was awarded doctorates in Literature and in Jurisprudence at Rome. He started the first secular state school in the Northern Albanian town of Shkodra (Shkodër, Scutari) where he was Principal before he moved into government. He wrote in Albanian, Serbo-Croat and Italian.
After the war, which he spent mostly in (neutral) Istanbul and (British) Jerusalem, Ivanaj returned to Albania to reclaim his important library and to work as a teacher. Hoxha - unsurprisingly - very had him arrested in 1947 as an ex-Zogist threat to the national security of the People's Republic, and he died in prison in 1953 at the age of 62

At the early age of seventeen he was writing almost as bitterly.
The following poem was written in Serbian (apparently with his brother) when he was in Belgrade, and this is a fairly free translation from (I'm afraid) an Albanian translation.



Poison ivy marches from my grave
As the wooden cross slowly decays
A timeless shield above past misery
A living fence protecting what once was me

Creeper rooting in cold wood-rot
Couch-grass tangling on the mound
Corpse that neither knows nor cares
Whether violets bloom or not

Withered grass the colour of death
Mouldering fence that someone bought
Humble weeds with deadly leaves:
Life poisoned by unspoken thought.




Dikur do kalbet drur'i kryqit tim
E mbi varr gjithkah hithrat do vërshojnë,
Si mburojë e lashtë, mbi këtë hidhërim,
Gardh'i gjallë do më qëndrojnë.

Kryqin e kalbur urthi do ta shtjellë,
Mbi varr grëm e egjër do t'i kem përherë,
Kurr mes tyre s'do shohë te çelë,
E njoma, e kaltra manushaqe plot erë.

Bari i vyshkur ngjyrë vdekje do jetë
E njerzit nga gardhet do ti dëbojë,
Nëse hithra e njomë, me t'egrën fletë,
Helmin e jetës në heshtje do tregojë.


Here is another one from the same time, 45 years before his actual death,
likewise translated from an Albanian version.


May this console you
When the black grave covers me
And past sorrows are your only company.
May my thoughts comfort you
As now they bludgeon me.

This memorial I write with shaking hand,
With broken heart that envy never buried,
These pallid words of little merit
Will come to you as from an unknown land.

And when the afflictions of the future
Break upon you, wave on wave
This memorial will tell you I too suffered
As my spirit crept into this heartless grave.

And will your lips begin to quiver
when you read, letter by letter,
the words that hewed me to a dying slave ?


1944 -

from the collections LIFE FOUND ME QUITE ALONE,

translated by Zana Banci and Anthony Weir

Kliko këtu për versionin shqip.


Cold pockets
Holed pockets
The freezing wind at dawn
The evening wind of misery

The bed
is scorched by the heat
while the bread
glows in the shop-window.



I approach the flower.
When I hold it in my hands
it is entirely mine.

I can give it shade where it is too bright.
Where it is too dark I can give it light

like a child stammering.



Entering the sphere of enterprise and hope
he sees unceasing energy
trapped in the rat-race



This is for you who was always far away...
I can remember slightly
a young heart burning brightly,
a rolling stone.

My memories of the past:
fogged glass...maybe one or two
sweet nights and just one day
in my whole life when I met
a golden moment: you.



Life came and found me quite alone.
Outside: the street's silent, watchful eye.
I took its blows philosophically
with the smile that suffering taught me.

Life came and found me quite alone.
I can't go forth from solitude.

Nowhere on this whole continent
can my wounded heart be healed.



Everything ages -
even a rare miracle;
only The Eyes stay young.

Look at me one more time
if you have the mercy to let me live.



My pants
covered in patches,
were rinsed by my wife -
but the suffering wouldn't wash out.

Like faded days
my pants hung on the Collective's door
from the rusty nail of Internment.

And the wind brought me from far-off the memory
of the unerasable face of poverty.



Where can I put the symbol of Honour and
the symbol of Justice ?
Where can I put the symbol of Hope and
the symbol of Compassion ?
Where can I put the symbol of Love ?

In our time pedestals
have been smashed to bits
- which I am putting
on my mother's grave.



Kiss gently
Not too hard
Teeth lurk behind lips
Sometimes like saws
Sometimes like sharp knives.
Kiss gently
As the President kisses, bestowing life.

States swell up
And hot blood flows.



As an evening
my soul will come.

What colour it will be
I do not know.

Everywhere you find yourself
I will come knocking.

With sorrow I came.
With sorrow I left.

I could not talk with you.



I set out for you early on:
a child scrubbed, neat and clean.
I travelled towards you brightly hoping -
but I never reached you...

I was struck down by The Hurricane.

Mitrush Kuteli and Albanian Dirt: problems of translation >>>



As a child with shining eyes
I learned how to blow
up a balloon.
As an adult wretch
in the shadow of my mask
I play games which stretch
from no beginning to no
end, hoping that I'll meet
understanding one day on the street.


! ! !

We survived
beyond the bounds of possibility.
The dawn of freedom
brought more inequality.




Soil digests bone slowly
Dust doesn't
Neither ash nor the dust of corpses does
Only soil does
Bones are crushed above the soil by words.
So please,
Leave the earth to do what is most difficult.



Between the roads
streets everywhere
unending roadway
streets without end -
and you in amongst them


Dalan Luzaj was born in the Southern city of Vlora. His father Isuf was one of the leaders of the Balli Kombetar Shqipetar organisation which was in opposition to the Stalinist Enver Hoxha who desolated Albania like a hurricane. After Hoxha came to power Isuf Luzaj fled the country, and in his stead his family was hounded and persecuted.
Dalan first published poetry in Nentori (November) magazine at the age of 18. Seven years later he and his whole family were interned in a 'designated village' where he spent the next 22 years in the isolated misery shared by thousands of Albanians. In 1990 he emigrated to Italy, and now lives and works in Chicago.

Jeta me gjeti vetëm (Life found me quite Alone) was published in 1995; Diejt të largët (Distant Suns), in 1996; and Pa Rrugë (Routeless) in 2002. Other volumes have since appeared.





Xhepa të ftohtë,
xhepa të shpuar,
era e mëngesit i flladit,
era e mbrëmjes u hedh pikëllim.

Digjet shtrati nga avujt e nxehte,
ndërsa buka
në vitrinë.



I qasem lules.

Kur e mbaj në duar
është e gjitha e imja.

E mund t'i jap hije atje ku ka dritë,
e mund t'i jap drite atje ku ka hije.

Duke bëlbëzuar fjalë prej fëmije



Kur hyn në orbitën e vrullit dhe shpreses
njeh forcën shtytëse që kurre s'ndalon,
sado që t'i qepet maratonës se jetës,
ngelet në pjesën që gabon.



Kjo është për ty që mbete larg;

ne mund ta sjellësh pak ndër mend
një shpirt i ri që digjej flake,
një gur që ende s'ka zënë vend.

Më vjen e shkuara ndër kujtime,
ekran i mjergullt, me pake natë;
një ditë me diell ish jeta ime
kur ty të njoha.
Çast i artë.



Erdhi jeta e me gjeti vetëm,
jashtë rruge, të heshtur, syhapur,
i prita goditjet me pamje të qetë,
me buzagazin e dhimbjes së zgjatur.

Erdhi jeta e më gjeti vetëm,
të dal prej vetmisë s'kam se si.
Nuk më rinon as i gjithë kontinenti,
plagët, kur verenjten, më therin në gji.



Gjithçka vjetërohet,
qoftë një mrekulli e rrallë.
Vetëm sytë janë të rinj.

Shikome dhe nje here
ne pac meshire te mbetem i gjalle



Pantallonat e mia
të mbytura në andre,
i lante Burbi,
pa mundur t'ua hiqte dot vuajtjen.

Pantallonat e mia si dite te shngjyrosura,
varur tek dere e kooperativës,
ne gozhden e dryshkur të internimit.

Era së largu m'i përkund ne kujtesë
fytyrë e pashlyer e mjerimit.



Ku ta vendos simbolin e Nderit dhe të
Ku ta vendos simbolin e Pritjes dhe të
Ku ta vendos simbolin e Dashurisë?

Piedestalet në kohët moderne
Bëhen cope e thërrime.

Po i vendos
Mbi varr të nënës sime.



Puthuni lehtë
Gjithësesi jo rendë,
Pas buzëve janë dhëmbët,
herë si sharra
here thika të mprehta.
Puthuni lehtë
Siç puthen presidentët plot jetë.

Bymehen shtetet
Derdhet gjaku i nxehtë.



Si flutur
në mbrëmje
do të vijë shpirti im.

Ç'ngjyrë do të ketë,
nuk e di.

Kudo që të jeni
do vij të trokas.

Me brengën që erdha, ika
Dhe s'munda t'ju flas.



U nisa drejt teje në agimin e jetës,
Si fëmijë i larë e i ndërruar.
Ecja. Shpresat ushqeja: një ditë do te mberrija tek ti.
Cikloni i tmerrshëm ma mjegulloj rrugën.
Më fal, poezi.



Me sytë e ndritshëm,
mësoja si ngrihej një

Lojra fëmije,
Loja njerëzore as nis as mbaron:
Maska dritë-hije.
Të mjerët
Presim të vërtetën
Në rrugët ku s'kalon


! ! !

Në kufijtë e pamundësisë
Diellit të lirisë
S'u barazuam.



Toka eshtrën e ha ngadalë,
As pluhur
As hi
Vetëm tokë.
Mbi dhe eshtra bluhet me fjalë;
Të lutem,
Lërja baltës pjesën më të forte.



Mes rrugësh
Rrugë nga të katër anët,
Rruge me fund
Rrugë pa fund,
Ti mes rrugësh mbete pa rrugë.



Filmi kanadezo-shqiptar, Gruaja pa krahë'
sapo ka fituar çmimin e argjendtë ‘Remi Award',
si pjesëmarrës në ‘Houston Worldfest 2003' në Teksas.



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Argyro Castro. 4 November 1845.

A water-colour of Gjirokastër by an early English traveller in Albania
- Edward Lear.


FROM TWO VAGABONDS IN ALBANIA by JAN AND CORA GORDON (London, 1927) - a rare gem of a book (reprinted 2007).


« Even its warmest admirers would not claim that the Government of Albania is as yet an admirable model. Here is at once a republic and an autocracy: in a condition similar to the smaller South American republics of romantic memory. The condition is not, in truth, blamable to Government alone. Albania is now some five or six years old. Before the inception of this self-governing republic the peasants lived almost untaxed and almost free from military service. Set a chilf of six years old to be its own parents, guardians, and schoolmaster and you would hardly expect success. The foundation of proper government is money, or work in lieu of money. But the peasants and merchants have the strongest objections to paying adequate taxes, and are quite ready to revolt in order to find a Government that will run the country without taxes. Government officials, from highest to lowest, aware of the risky tenure of their posts, are tempted to make their places a means of immediate profit, garnering against the future disaster when they will have to flee the country. It is difficult, morevover, to blame much to a country that has not learned the word Nationality from its cradle, and which has no notion of what 'Public Service' can imply. It is difficult to blame it for its first tottering attempts in the art of self-government. The people are also divided into four religions, all of whom despise each other - Orthodox Mohammedans, Bek-ta-shees, Greek Church, and Catholics.

« The present dictator, Ahmed Zogu [who made himself King Zog] chief of the Mati tribe, is admitted by most to be a patriotic, hard-working and sincere man, but his hands are tied, and he is controlled by the members of his suite, his ministers, and deputies. Whatever reforms he may believe to be possible, he has no instrument with which to carry them out. The Christians, who are his most eager enemies, and who are most clamorous for the development of the country, have made that development impossibler, since a general political peace is the only condition under which the dictator could substitute for the many venial amongs his supporters more honest though less powerful partisans. How is it possible to build up an efficient public service when not one believes in the permanency of the State ?

« In this welter of bribery, office-seeking and corruption a little group of English ex-army officers has been engaged as advisers to the police. They have no real power whatever, but popularly in Albania they are thought to be almost all-powerful. They are naturally hated by a large group of ministers and deputies, who see in them an obstacle to their own political and selfish projects and who will do anything to prevent, for their own ends, the propagation of any reforms for which these Englishmen are struggling and which the President himself may really desire. »



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