Xhevdet Bajraj, Kosovo/México

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    • Xhevdet Bajraj, Kosovo/México. Member of the Board

    Xhevdet Bajraj is a poet, dramatist, translator, and professor. His works of poetry, which total nearly twenty volumes, have been translated into English, German, Spanish, Danish, Serbian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Turkish, and Polish. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, among them, the prize for best book of poetry (both in 1993 and 2000), conferred by the Kosovo Writers’ Society; the Goliardos International Prize for Poetry in 2004; the 2010 Katarina Josipi award for best original drama written in Albanian; first prize at the Festival of Monodrama, Vlorë, Albania in 2013; and the award for the best book of poetry in 2015, presented at the Prishtina International Book Fair.
    In May of 1999, Bajraj and his family were deported from Kosovo. Through the International Parliament of Writers and their program for persecuted writers, he was granted asylum and a fellowship at the Casa Refugio Citlaltépetl in Mexico. In the years since, he has become a full professor of creative writing and literature at the Autonomous University of Mexico City and been inducted into the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte. In a parallel artistic universe, he appeared as a co-star of Aro Tolbukhin, In the Mind of the Killer, an Ariel award-winning film and Mexico’s submission to the 2003 Oscars.

    ALBANIAN FOOD

    Serb soldiers in Kosova
    Had rich Albanian menu

    In the morning
    Milk from torn mothers’ breasts
    And newborn babies boiled in the fires of the homes that were burning
    Served with black eyes, blue eyes or brown eyes
    And a bottle of boiling tears

    Some were content only with the roasted head

    At lunch
    Broken hearts of all ages
    Cooked in the juice of bones
    And back meat roasted in live coal
    Accompanied with children’s fried brains
    And a salad of shouts sprinkled with vinegar of horror
    And one and half liter of raped girls’ blood

    Some were content only with the roasted head

    At dinner
    Black and white lungs
    Here and there a kidney
    Child meat mixed with the blood of mothers
    Some old man’s flesh roasted on a spit
    Salted with the salt out of the tears

    Some were content only with the roasted head

    In the meantime
    They were munching left ears and right ears
    Fingers and toes
    Here and there some bloody noses
    And our dreams dried on the execution wall

    Some were content only with the roasted head

    They baked and cooked in the fires of the homes that were burning
    They were eating and drinking from the skulls of Albanians
    As if they were not men
    Were they, God?
    Until the summer returned them back to their soil
    When they fattened up from death

    Translated by Fadil Bajraj

    IN MY SONG

    To my brother Fadil

    If in my song
    The sun rises in the south and dies in the north
    Leave it alone

    If the rivers flow without names of men
    Leave them alone
    The oblivion has its own reason

    If the stone in his kingdom is quiet
    Leave it alone
    The fire is being saved for the great day of returning

    If in my song you meet a man
    On a sunny day
    As he drinks water in the river
    With his knees on the stones
    Leave him alone

    He was born free

    Translated by Fadil Bajraj

    THE ANGEL’S DREAMS
    The moment he set foot on earth
    First thing he did was walk into a cantina
    He drank two whiskies, then he died
    And the angels have night terrors

    When he came down a second time
    He drank nine vodkas and didn’t notice when
    The people cut off his wings

    Ever since, he is afraid of sleeping
    Scared to dream something human

    Translated by Alice Whitmore

    THE SHOPPING BAG

    I don’t know about you, dear friend
    but life keeps biting me with its beastly teeth
    and there’s nothing left to do
    but bite back

    I flick away my cigarette and cross the street patiently
    so that some car doesn’t tear off
    my brand new shoes

    I walk into the supermarket
    lamb chops
    a selection of fish
    chicken wings breasts thighs … whole chickens
    bull testicles cow brains beef liver
    pig trotters rabbits quails
    all heavy, all carefully packaged
    with the price in the corner
    to see if we can afford it

    I carry a bag with tortillas
    green chiles
    six Indio beers, nice and cold
    three packets of Delicados, no filter
    and I return home
    to eat
    tortillas with chile
    and a little piece of myself

    Translated by Alice Whitmore

    KING OF NOTHING

    I don’t know if I’m standing on my head
    or if the world has toppled over
    ​Here it seems reality will never stoop so low
    as to deny our own imagination
    meanwhile each day we wait among loved ones
    ​for the cold kiss of the blade of a thief’s knife
    ​a bullet’s flight from its black nest
    ​straight into kidnapper’s chest
    or the liquid wail of drug traffickers’ ax
    who make illusory collages
    ​out of flesh from our bodies

    So
    we wait
    with a smile on our faces
    We prove Aristotle’s words
    that man is the only animal
    capable of such a thing
    smiling

    Wind blows from all directions
    ​the sky committed to make a mess
    Goddammit
    ​Life must be lived
    But
    I don’t give a fuck about anything
    I’m nearly dead but I’m rich
    I have seven Bozhur cigarette packs
    and a collection of bottles
    filled with fresh Rahovec air
    while the world exists solely for poetry
    for a glass of raki
    and making love

    I say this from the land of the winged snake
    it grew wings
    because it swallowed a dead
    ​​​seagull
    I know this
    because I am
    the son of the Knight of the black Eagle
    ​​​black as the final night
    emperor of the red sky
    For my swift return to the empire of silence
    I need nothing
    because I’m the king of nothing
    I’m the holy nothing
    God of nothing and more than that
    I am nothing itself
    I
    who have just found another house
    and now live here
    my belly full my soul empty
    and while time flies stealing days from the future
    no one complains about this

    translated by Ani Gjika

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