‘Eja’: A lawyer’s passion for poetry brings some of the world’s best to Albanian readers

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 27, 2023 10:38

‘Eja’: A lawyer’s passion for poetry brings some of the world’s best to Albanian readers

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  • A new book with poetry translated by Përparim Kalo into Albanian has been published by Tirana Times in a multilingual version.

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A new book with poetry translated by Përparim Kalo into Albanian has been published by Tirana Times in a multilingual version.


Among the anthologies of poems by the world's poets in Albanian, not so many, but not little either, some of them can convey a rare tenderness. This was the feeling I had when I read this anthology titled “Come in” (EJA), given that the selection and translation of the poems was made by Përparim Kalo, a well-known lawyer and intellectual who is obviously passionate about poetry, without great expectations that professional translators or poet-translators usually have.

But he did it with both a driving and inspiring desire. Firstly, to share with readers his passion for spiritual satisfaction. Secondly, to grant to poetry all the reverence and gratitude it deserves for all it has given and keeps giving us: aesthetic pleasure, fascination, glamour, catharsis, cultivation, class, simplicity, joy, melancholy, vision, high aesthetic awareness. So, for a whole spiritual and mental treasure that art in general and poetry gives, in particular, to those who are prepared to love and respect it.

Such a noble desire of the translator Kalo goes in line with his exigency to bring them as beautifully and accurately as possible in Albanian, not only the words, their semantic connection and the syntax in original, but also the atmosphere and the emotional register of each creation, the charm of expressive forms, colors, movements, rhythm and internal music of the verses, i.e. those universal elements of poetry that are beyond the lexicon, part of the spiritual, metaphorical and figurative "dictionary" through which the artistic "Esperanto" of languages ​​and countries is created and keeps on living.

The author is exposed to the judgment of the readers through the bilingual publication of the poems: in their original and Albanian languages. But he also interacts with readers who know English, French or Italian, inviting them to verify the quality of his translations and, why not, exercise the pleasure of reading in the original or re-translating even themselves the selected poems.

The exigencies in question hit the target many times, bringing translations to the level of their beauty in the original. Let us take for illustration the beautiful poem of the great English poet, William Butler Yeats, “When you are old”, and specifically the last stanza, the elegance of the translation of which spells out in Albanian the wonderful nuances of the original:

And bending down beside the glowing bars / Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead / And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Përkulu pranë vatrës me thëngjij të ndezur / Përshpërit, e mërzitur, si dashuria shkoi kaq shpejt
Dhe midis majamalesh u ngjit përpjetë / Kokën mes një grumbulli yjesh duke fshehur.

We can bring many other quotes of a variety of schools, styles and tones, from Robert Burns to Sara Teasdale, from Rumi to Pablo Neruda, from Paul Verlaine to Louise Gluck, (Nobelist, 2020), from Robert Frost to Jacques Prévert, from Paul Éluard to Charles Simiç, from Bukowski to Bob Dylan (Nobelist, 2016), Alda Merini, and others. But let us leave to the reader the pleasure of discovering them through reading the poems.

We must note that the selection of the authors included in this book does not follow any chronological, geographical, historical, thematic criterion, nor is it related to the schools or poetic currents of the centuries. The "criterion" seems to have been their first reading of Kalo in English, French and just one from Italian, where English and American authors predominate in terms of space, perhaps because they are known better and more liked by him, or perhaps he feels more secure translating from English.

Like any similar publication, even when it is compiled by prominent poets or critics, Come in comes as the golden collection of a lover of poetry. This is an anthology of his likes, his taste, his passion, the manifestation of Kalo himself as a subject of literature, art and beauty, since reading shapes and shows us who we are.

Finally, this anthology is one of those values that is worth sharing with others thus just giving, adding, not taking away.


The challenge and pleasure of translating poems

By Përparim Kalo

Përparim Kalo

We have many desires in life, some of which remain just wishes, dreams, others we fulfill thanks to great efforts and perseverance. Our generation is distinguished for its love for knowledge and the desire to contribute, not only in the respective areas of professional or social engagement, but also in art, sports, literature and music. In this context, I have put my modest efforts, and sometimes looked with interest at poetry.

The well-known poets Besnik Mustafaj and Mimoza Ahmeti have encouraged me with opinions they forwarded after reading some poems I wrote as an amateur, however through the lines of their elegant wordings, I have understood that to be a true poet requires much more time and dedication. So, I felt that instead of writing poems myself, I could do something else within the domain of poetry, which I believed I could do better - translating poems. This was the starting point of the translation of these selected poems, under the title Come in, as one of Robert Frost's poems. It brings into Albanian language several great pieces by well-known poets like Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, Pablo Neruda, Bertold Breht, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, even Nobel laurates like Louise Gluck and Bob Dylan. In those poems we may find answers to many issues that worry us, while still many questions are yet to be answered. Poetry contributes by just bringing them to our attention, as living things on earth, and inspiring us to find the room and freedom to respond to them individually by finding our own solutions. 

I am honored that Preç Zogaj, an important poet, took the time to read, comment and evaluate this selection translated from English, French and Italian. His foreword makes me feel good, as these translated poems may bring some water to the vast sea of poetry, already full of translated poems into Albanian by our prominent poets and interpreters.

I decided to publish this book to honor my statement to the prestigious newspaper Tirana Times, in a last year’s interview, when my short term as a Judge of the Constitutional Court ended. Those who may have read that interview and the question of what else, apart from returning to professional activity as a lawyer I would do, might remember I said I would finalize the translation of a collection of foreign poems and then publish them along with my own modest poems, contained in another, separate book titled White flowers. So, today I feel happy it happened!



Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 27, 2023 10:38