Përparim Kalo talks poetry at event marking publication of ‘Eja’

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 29, 2023 08:45

Përparim Kalo talks poetry at event marking publication of ‘Eja’

Story Highlights

  • Mr. Kalo explains his passion for poetry in a Tirana Times interview.

Related Articles

The Tirana Times Library has hosted an event to mark the publication of a new book, "Eja", with poetry from around the world translated by Përparim Kalo into Albanian.

Mr. Kalo, one of Albania’s top lawyers and a former Constitutional Court judge, has a long history of supporting the arts, including being the founder of the Kalo Art Gallery, "a unique contribution to the a city that is in much in need of it," said book's publisher, Albert Rakipi, speaking at the launch event.  

The book's editor, poet Preç Zogaj said Kalo's poetry translation "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."

We caught up at the book launch event with Mr. Kalo, who explained his passion for poetry in the Tirana Times interview below.

TT: What brought a lawyer, former Judge of Constitutional Court to focus on poetry?

PK: As I mentioned in an interview with you last year, I intended to publish two sets of poems. One set with translated foreign poems, and another with my own ones. I would have thought to do it in a rather silent manner, but as you can see, it turned into a big event, because Tirana Times, and Albert Rakipi, thought it would be a good idea to organize a poetry and musical evening, in these troubled times dominated by events on corruption, elections, party disintegration, thefts, murders, wars and other similar topics. 

On the other hand, dealing with poetry has never been exclusive, only for a category of people. Room for poetry is immense, so large that no one can fill it. Lawyers are not meant to write or translate only laws and regulations. As human beings, they have wider interests and can explore and speak up in areas other than law. Poems draw our attention to many situations which we see happening in everyday life, so there is also an element of formation, education in their content. 

TT: How was the process of publication of your works

PK: Firstly, you should find someone who knows poetry to tell you if your materials are worth sharing with the public. So, I am happy that two prominent poets, Mimoza Ahmeti and Preç Zogaj, respectively, accepted to read and analyze my works. 

Mimoza, known for her independent thinking even when she was invited to contribute in one of the political parties, checked my own poems, now published under the title LULET E BARDHA (White flowers)

Preç, a novelist, journalist and also politician, found some time to peruse the translated poems and gave the go ahead to its publication. In the forward of the book, he provides comments about some of the 77 poems written by 46 great poets, some world famous, and a handful Nobel laurates or nominees. 

The idea of publishing the translated poems was inspired by the desire to share them, as in the case of our art collection and music. My wife and I decided to establish and open an art gallery, so that we could share the pleasure of looking at art with the public at large. There we share art and music with friends and the public.

TT: Your book titled EJA (Come in) contains poems of great poets, renowned internationally. What made you decide to translate them?

PK: As I said, poems are part of my love for the fine arts and music and as such, I have kept listening to music and the lyrics of songs since my childhood. I liked reading not only foreign, but also Albanian poets. I have followed Kadare and Agolli, Xhevahir Spahiu, Bardhyl Londo, Betim Muço, Natasha Lako and Petrit Ruka, but also some contemporary poets like Besnik Mustafaj, Timo Flloko, Ervin Hatibi, Luljeta Leshanaku, Irma Kurti, etj. 

Of course, the pleasure when you read foreign poems is because you move to another terrain, another culture, and when you put yourself in the exercise of making them look like Albanian through translation, you enjoy them twice. Translating poems is harder than translating prose. Those who have tried will confirm this. 

As to what pushes or invites me to have a look at the poetry I believe it is the music, the love for music. Music creates an invisible bridge, connection with poetry, the lyrics can take another value when surrounded and covered by the melody and the verses are “sweetly played in tune”, as Robert Burns says in his poem My love is like a red, red rose. In our family, we all love playing music and singing.  

I think I have inherited some skills of writing verses from my parents. My father used to write songs and short poems; my mother also is gifted in writing verses; one of my uncles used to write books and verses…I am happy to see that my children have good writing skills. My oldest daughter, Eni, wrote a set of 80 poems in French language, when she was a student in Strasbourg.

TT: How did you select the poems

PK: There is no criteria in their selection. Some of them are part of an old anthology, some others found randomly or recommended by various sources. The main criterion was liking them, in other words, my taste…That is why there are various names that do not match in terms of the caliber. Another criterion was selecting short, but strong pieces. 

TT: What is the other book LULET E BARDHA about?

PK: Lulet e bardha is a selection of my own poems, short verses that are generally based on fantasy and a few on the moments of real life. I have kept them in a file through the years visiting them and bringing new ones in early mornings that I spend every day in the office, the title came from the burial ceremony of our uncle, prof. Isuf Kalo, whose graveyard was dressed in white flowers.  

TT: What is your next book, if any?

PK: I may be finalizing a second anthology with works from Moliere, Goethe, Esenin, Mayakovski, Edgar Allen Poe and many other big poets from Africa, Asia, South America…

Then I will finalize a book which is a fiction about the sublime love of two birds, which contrasts with love between human beings…

TT: Wish you success in your legal profession and more creativity in literature, art and music…

PK: Thank you


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 29, 2023 08:45