Luljeta Lleshanaku was born in Elbasan, Albania in 1968. Llleshanaku won the National Silver Pen Prize in 2000 and the International Kristal Vilenica Prize in 2009 and. She was a resident at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1999, and a fellow at the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2008. Her collection Child of Nature was a finalist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Award.
“Language arrived fragmentary / split in syllables / spasmodic / like code in times of war,” writes Luljeta Lleshanaku in the title poem to her powerful new collection Negative Space. In these lines, personal biography disperses into the history of an entire generation that grew up under the oppressive dictator- ship of the poet’s native Albania. For Lleshanaku, the “unsaid, gestures” make up the negative space that “gives form to the woods / and to the mad woman— the silhouette of goddess Athena / wearing a pair of flip-flops / and an owl atop her shoulder.” It is the negative space “that sketched my onomatopoeic profile / of body and shadow in an accidental encounter.” Lleshanaku instills ordinary objects and places—gloves, used books, acupuncture needles, small-town train stations—with subtle humor and profound insight, much as a child might discover a world in a grain of sand.
Available: April 24 2018
Poetry by Luljeta Lleshanaku
In Child of Nature, Lleshanaku explores her country’s past in powerful lyrics. Here she turns to the fallout of her country’s past and its relation to herself and her family, and explores how these histories intertwine and influence her childhood memories and the retelling of her family’s stories. Sorrow, death, imprisonment, and desire are some of the themes that echo deeply in Lleshanaku’s beautiful poems, poems that Peter Constantine has called ’contemporary classics of world literature.’ Of her work, Albanian novelist Ridvan Dibra writes, ’When you close her book, the images don’t leave you. They cleave you open like a leopard’s paw, and enter into you. Once inside they create their own life, a second life, vastly different from the original.’
Poetry by Luljeta Lleshanaku
Fresco: Selected Poetry of Luljeta Lleshanaku introduces to English-speaking readers the arresting work of Luljeta Lleshanaku, one of Albania’s foremost younger poets. Born in Elbasan in 1968, she grew up under virtual house arrest because of her family’s opposition to the Stalinist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. She is foremost among the first generation of poets to emerge out of the cultural wasteland of enforced socialist realism in the arts, reinventing Albanian poetry almost entirely from scratch. In a voice at once firm yet quiet and spare, with haunting imagery that challenges the imagination, her highly charged poems carry the burden of her own and her country’s past. For Fresco, editor Henry Israeli has gathered fifty-eight poems from Luljeta Lleshanaku’s published books (The Sleepwalker’s Eyes, 1992; Sunday Bells, 1994; Half-Cubism, 1996; Antipastoral, 1999) as well as some newer work. His Afterword places her writing within its personal and social context, while an Introduction by the award-winning translator Peter Constantine views the poet from the wider perspective of modern Albanian literature.