Visar Zhiti, one of the best contemporary Albanian poets, in an interview with journalist Anila Kadija. Visar, class 52, was sentenced in the 1980 with 13 years of prison by the communist regime for a collection of poems never published. In Italy he won the "Leopardi d'oro" awards in the 1991 and "Ada Negri" in the 1997.
I had passed all imagination about poets. When I thought that the boundaries between us, ordinary people and them, poets, are waterproof and with particular nuances, I was wrong. At the handshake, Visar gave me a positive energy that only a man like him with surprising interiority and dismantling simplicity can give.
Born in a dimension in which spirituality lives the emotion in the smallness of everyday life, in that handshake from old friends, I broke off the question of whether I could ever speak freely with one of the big names in our culture. Via the clothes of the diplomat and the words of circumstance ...
I interviewed him during the initiative "City ports. Growing cultures between Albania and Italy " , organized in Modena by AlbaniaNews, in which Visar was sent as a speaker on the last years of the communist regime and Minister of Culture of the Albanian Embassy in Rome.
I begin to talk to him about his poetry that struck me strongly, discovered by chance on the internet. He speaks of prison shoes, and I, as an incorrigible curious person, try to find in the answer that I expect tenaciously the strength of his soul, so, I continue ...
The imprint that the poet leaves with his pain lasts a season like those on the snow and over time melts into memories, or is it well scratched in the soul of the reader and marks it for life?
I believe the footprints are of both types. It may happen that you do not leave them or leave them, as you say, so strong that they mark life.
In me, for example, figures such as Esenin and Whitman have been very important during youth. But I've always loved Lorca, Pol Elyrain too.
I loved all the others I met later but they never replaced the first ones.
Undoubtedly I love immortals like Homer, Dante and Shakespeare and the authors in my language Lasgush Poradeci, Naim Frashëri, Gjergj Fishta, De Rada up to the current Podrimja. Poets instead of the socialist era have deeply disappointed me. They are able to write only under the dictatorial pressure considering the dictator their God. The sign left by the poet with his steps, we punctually trample him.
Visar Zhiti and his childhood? Do you keep some unforgettable moments?
Eh, all the childhoods are beautiful. The world turns out before you. They are magical.
At the time I didn't know, but today I realize that I had a childhood that was too poor, with huge economic shortcomings but with the omnipresent family love. Wonder what I remember? When I saw the sea for the first time, I was dumbfounded. That infinite size, blue, a dream. I felt the same feeling even when for the first time we went to see Durazzo's dusted amphitheater. But, when he entered our house a former prisoner greeted my childhood ...
At the base of everyone's personality there are the foundations, where the long journey of life begins. Is there an episode of his adolescence and youth in the foundations of his dream?
Like childhood, life itself is beautiful and dear. But I immediately understood that I was not living in my time and many advantages did not belong to me. The freedom granted me was always less than the others. As a result I experienced less joys, love, poetry that are closely related to freedom. Who says the opposite mind to hide their sins.
The joy of seeing a poem of mine published was quickly extinguished by the desperation of being locked up in prison for writing it. Even dreams are condemned, but, at least they manage to escape more easily than we do. Have my dreams traveled so much? We lived in Lushnja, a city that I nicknamed, paraphrasing a poet, "capital of suffering". There were interned: artists, painters, musicians and writers. Getting to know them was nice but risky. Everything beautiful around me was condemnable.
During the afternoon initiative of "Porti Cittadini", the moderator Paolo Muner asked her a question that excited him so much. We were talking about the first Albanians who entered the Italian embassy in Tirana in the far 1991 and opened the doors of freedom to their compatriots. Muner asked her where she was at that moment and she replied that she was close to her mud, wishing luck to those who took the initiative but she chose to stay in Albania to find herself. Has he found himself? Over which rainbow did you begin to see the sunlight? Because freedom is only not bars!
Thank you for the attention with which you followed the initiative. Each of us continually seeks and creates us but our I is not only us, but everything that surrounds us, society, the country, the air. The question "where were you Adam?" Is indispensable for everyone to ask. Where were you at the time when some were convicted and others condemned? All foreigners have the courage to address this key question, like Muner, that she remembers very well.
We ourselves should have asked ourselves this question, but it is always better late than never. To answer your question if I found myself again, my existence was simplified then: slave and enemy of the regime. Therefore, I had been searching for my other self, that of others because each of us is someone else for others like others are someone else for us.
When in various conferences I talk about research and findings, they are often not mine but in my country. In some ways we are the same thing and we must be responsible. I am convinced that we are walking towards the right goal, that of freedom and Europe. You affirm so well that freedom is alone and I share it. In my life experience I have also suffered this accusation, of being in search of another sun, a second that is precisely this of freedom. Therefore I was condemned losing a lot even from the first sun.
During his speech at "Porti Cittadini" he spoke correctly in Italian, although he later apologized for his "Italian prisoner". Has anyone in the prison walls given you lessons? Can you briefly describe to me some fond memories of those times when you sat with the priest, who was then imprisoned, and did repetitions of Italian verbs, pretending to talk about sports when a policeman approached? Culture that you perceived in a few meters of delimited life.
It is exactly as you say, in a few meters of life, in a space slightly larger than a tomb. Like many others I too have published various novels with stories that I report from prison. I am pleased that the reader appreciates these writings that arise from hell and bring the truth and morals that even if they concern ethics, they are generally necessary for literature. After all, certainly much more important than the lies of the socialist regime.
Democracy and communism. Serena Luciani, author of the novel "Earthquake in Tirana" says she noticed an Albania where the idealistic doctrine did not exist. "Marx - she says - considered communism a better system than capitalism". During his stay in the 80 years in Tirana as an official of the Italian Embassy, he had noticed a country that could not be called a communist. How would you define Albania in those years?
Dictatorship and poverty, a prison. I believe that the doctrine of Marx is still to be concluded so I consider it missing. His followers, much less prepared than Marx, brought the apocalypse. Another philosopher, Georg Santana, said that communism is antibiotic.
Everywhere we find written that communism is a utopia. The word itself originating from ancient Greek means "out of place". Communism is out of place like the communists without a country. There is no one without a country. The homeland becomes ever greater, Europe, the planet, the dream. But, the man somewhere is born, in a city, in a street, in a house and these places will never separate from him. With the fall of communism, the story is not over. The world will always know how to dream and will be able to stay together, moreover, rejoicing better than any doctrine.
In your most difficult days, what thoughts have reached you about existence? A message of courage that helps to overcome the difficulties that divide man's life in such moments?
It is I who awaits these messages to believe in man. I was betrayed and hit in my person. I tell you what Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, among other things this is her year. "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. So we will have more light together ”.
In life there are angels who give us the wings of goodness. Did you have an angel who gave color to his life and to his person in the most difficult moments?
I have a mother, a wife, a child ... brothers and sisters, friends, so many others that I love and who love me.
You have received two very important awards in Italy. What does Visar Zhiti think of these awards?
I received more than two. The prizes are like the beautiful dress, you are happy to wear it. But the prizes are not my work, I just think about what I can do.
In a straight road, if you were facing a curve and a stop, which one would you choose? Or is the spirit of the poet a maze of emotions?
I would choose both. I would stop for a moment to rest and keep trying to see what is behind the curve. Yes, the spirit of the poet is a labyrinth of emotions.
You have contacts with brilliant pens of Italian literature, what do they transmit to you and what do you transmit to them? We are a people where fairy tales are still told, as Antonio Caiazza, a RAI journalist and author of the book "In alto Mare" that talks about Albania, likes to point out. What do you think?
I should have had even more contacts, because the embassy cannot be enclosed within the institutional walls, but must work on the street, where people are to transmit their culture and receive that of others. The Italian artists and writers that I have come to know convey understanding and benevolence.
They show interest in our culture and our country. They love to come to Albania and have their works translated for the Albanian public. They love to interpret in Albania and inaugurate their art exhibitions. Cultures enrich each other.
As for what Caiazza says, we are a people that hands down traditions and we have writers linked to myths that value their work with old and new works.
But, we live in the present, which realizes us and we realize. It is important to make sure you live it to the fullest.
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