We participated in an international poetry festival in Italy from all over the world: from the Mediterranean, from Central Europe, from Africa, from Asia and from America.
From the world's most poetic peninsula, the Balkans, he should have reached us too Ali Podrimja, to read his poems, and instead he did not come. He sent a letter that the festival organizers made me read.
I cannot reach you, he said, because I am busy transporting corpses to my land. I'm burying my dead. Also notify your Minister of Foreign Affairs so that he knows ...
A serious silence has been created, like the very absence of Podrimja who had sent his ghost. It reached us from the epic plain of Kosova, where the genocide and the massacres of an innocent, halved population that endured with a silent and gloomy solemnity had begun.
Later, the forced removal and the great exodus would also begin, as in the Bible. They were running away, from their flaming houses like they had once been from ancient Troy, forming long queues - a new Aeneid - holding on their shoulders the elderly fathers, like Enea his father. Aeneas was Dardan, like the ancestors of the Kosovars. The exoduses, wars, fires were being repeated, with the difference that there were no longer demigods and Olympians, but bombing military aircraft of the 20th century. The last of that century and the last of that war.
In the midst of chaos and apocalypse there was also the poet Ali Podrimja, who not only helped, but also gave courage to his people. In poetry he collected sighs, wounds, testaments, the last light of the eyes, hope, legends. Thus giving a voice to the silence of his people, to endurance - to strength, to rebellion - to inspiration. And, let's face it, also to poetry and certainly to modernity. The modernity that he has woven together with his compatriots in Kosova: together with Esad Mekuli, Din Mehmeti (Rai, at the time of the bombings on Belgrade, gave the news of his killing, and instead we met him still alive).
A whole pleiad of Kosovar poets who would have perfected their work. Recall Azem Shkreli, the poet of the Albanian pantheon, who died in the flower of his maturity, of a heart attack, just landed at the airport of Prishtina. Ali Podrimja, on the other hand, put the scream of the soul into poetry, as instinctive as the howling of the wolf in the snow, while looking at the moon.
Podrimja's poetry takes a look at the great wound, full of light, of freedom.
When the homeland is halved, the pain is not halved, rather it multiplies outside you and becomes hyperpoetic, it pours into waves drowning the land without borders. Look at the great rift that is in the middle and you understand that it is not only of the earth, but also of history, of the collective conscience, which also reaches the personal one, as on a plain, in which the storm begins ... the storm of poetic inspiration.
Ali Podrimja, son of Albania 'beyond', of the other half, of ancient Dardania, is the most inspired poet, entirely sublime, all earth and bones. It upsets the Balkan landscapes in which puddles of blood appear on the stones, so much so that often it seems to us an elegiac cantor of wounded stones. Synthetic, but also by the shocking associations, the verse of Podrimja, allows critical comments and Pindaric flights, but above all it shows how our poet is the most Homeric and his strength resembles that of the avalanches of the last Balkan Homer, Gjergj Fishta, his compatriot. Despite the differences - compared to those of Fishta, Podrimja's poems are extremely shorter, composed of a few verses - the sharp satire is transformed by the new bard into bitter irony, the similarity in metaphor, the traditional into modern:
megjithatë deri në vdekje /
do ta kërkoj atë që e humb / kryesorja: Jetën ta jetosh pa e vrarë //
"Anyway, until death /
I'll try what I lose /
important: Live life without killing it "
(Me jetue / Vivere).
I once wrote that Ali Podrimja, like Naim Frashëri - the national poet of the Albanians, their 'late' Dante - merged intimate poetry with the poetry of the collective destiny of one's nation. And he did not melt them causing the pain of one to begin, where the pain of the other ends; he merged them as (and perhaps more than) the warrior with his weapon.
Book after book, word after word, the poet has filled the country's diary, his writing resembles a thermometer, his voice has taken on the weight of life, as a coma of the dearest and most sacred thing; it is this voice that outlines the figure of the prophet, as in the legend, one half looking for the other.
Podrimja recovers the deep cry of the blood of an ancient race and we, suddenly, understand that it is the cry of our times and that we also live thanks to that cry ... often without punctuation, even without the initial capital letter, modern therefore, there where the demonic force brings down times, borders and remains the heroic gesture without time or all time.
Time, for Podrimja, flows, as for Heraclius, until it is petrified suspended in the magic of poetry. His images are as sharp as they are unusual.
Sytë i lan në shuplaka të engjëjve /
"You wash your face with angels' palms"
Above all, Podrimja is the poet of human dignity. He reveals it in pain, defeat and wound, in memory, in the stones used as foundations, in the key, in the sword, in silence and, certainly, in the Word. For this reason, Podrimja synthesizes everyday life with the absolute strength of the tomb. And at the same time, it demands the survival of its people: existence is a duty. Life, also ours, is a wealth of the world and of the times, and as such deserves everything, the possible and the impossible, which is fought in its name. Podrimja calls the national and Balkan symbols of the whole Mediterranean area to help, he becomes a bard of sublime resistance and, as a poet, he is as hermetic as the man's chest. A wound is enough to look inside. It seems to us to see more with wounds than with eyes. And we believe, with him, that
Dritë and plagës i verbëron /
"The light of the wound blinds"
the times and its masters. Our poet is existential, but not individualistic. Standard bearer for the survival of one's nation, understood not only as history and experience, but also as a treasure for the future. Often it is the citizen frozen in an infinite winter, defenseless in the midst of the winds that beat the island of the half country, where there is no sea, but icy waves yes. In his half-Ithaca, he searches within himself for the other half of the homeland. His homeland is of flesh, as well as mountains, plains and heroism, both of blood and water, it is the Man and his heaven, not only the soil on which he rests, but also the subsoil of the dead, their dream that creates dew, fog and ghosts.
The paper on which Podrimja writes is similar to the skin of life. His poems have been written on an ancient parchment, they are a palimpsest of times, but the pain belongs to everyone, it is like an excoriation, like a new torture, modern, made to the soul.
Podrimja belongs to a martyr people, who in addition to giving the world a great hero, Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg - on the pedestal of his statue in Rome, in Piazza Albania, is written "Fearless defender of Western civilization" - gave birth to Mother Teresa, who make love for all humanity the mission of a lifetime. For this reason, the poetry of Podrimja also possesses the hardness of the sword and the mercy of prayers. It is a sword that prays for peace and life, but above all for justice and even before for work and for the triumph of man. Therefore it acts.
Let stones, trees and wolves become human too; therefore we also give back to the poet what was at the same time stone, wolf, tree, cross and bell, tomb and cradle. And the beauty appears:
trupi yt, oj grua- / mbrëmje and rrëzuar në gjunj.//
"Your body, woman / sunset fallen on your knees".
The poetry of Podrimja continues to be translated into other languages - in addition to the Balkan ones, in Polish, Turkish, German, French, English - moving the reader wherever it is, even beyond the Continent. We also hope in the Italian dessert. But above all, the poetry of Podrimja has become the spiritual wealth of its own people, influencing it, allowing it to better understand itself, to fight for itself in the name of the individual, the community, identity and universalism, to be in the same Albanian and European time; always and more man.
Even the first Kosovar president, the Ghandi of the Balkans, Ibrahim Rugova, has long found, in Podrimja, the incompatibility of idealism and reality; an irreconcilability that, in life, generates the tragic. The poetry of Podrimja, according to Rugova, is "unfinished story".
I started by recalling an international poetry festival in Italy, which Podrimja could not attend. It is the poet of the absence, of the void that asks to be filled, which determines the change. All the poets participating in that festival, after the letter of Podrimja, wanted to change something in the choice of their poems, they wanted to add or remove a verse from a verse, a metaphor, because Ali Podrimja had written to them that he would not join them: he was committed to bury his dead.
The dead of Podrimja sing in this book.
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