Ani Gjika

Albanian translator and poet

Ani Gjika

Ani Gjika

Ani Gjika is an Albanian-born poet, literary translator, and author of Bread on Running Waters (Fenway Press, 2013), a finalist for the 2011 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire Book Prize. Gjika is the translator of Kosovar poet Xhevdet Bajraj’s play, Slaying the Mosquito, (Laertes, 2017) and her translation of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s poetry collection, Negative Space, (Bloodaxe Books, New Directions, 2018) received an NEA grant and an English PEN Award. Gjika was a 2011 Robert Pinsky Global Fellow, a 2017 Framingham State University’s Miriam Levine Reader, and a judge for ALTA’s 2017 National Translation Award in Poetry. She teaches ESL at Massachusetts International Academy and poetry and literary translation at Grub Street in Boston.

cover image of the book Negative Space

Negative Space

by Luljeta Lleshanaku

Translated by Ani Gjika

“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.

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