Child of Nature


A fresh voice from the Balkans by an award winning poet from Albania, Lleshanaku’s Child of Nature explores her country’s past in intense and powerful lyrics.
In my house praying was considered a weakness,
like making love.
And like making love it was followed by a long night of fear,
so alone with the ...

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A fresh voice from the Balkans by an award winning poet from Albania, Lleshanaku’s Child of Nature explores her country’s past in intense and powerful lyrics.
In my house praying was considered a weakness,
like making love.
And like making love it was followed by a long night of fear,
so alone with the body.
—Luljeta Lleshanaku
Lleshanaku belongs to the first “post-totalitarian” generation of Albanian poets. Child of Nature is her second poetry collection in English. Here she turns to the fallout of her country’s past and its relation to herself and her family. Through intense, powerful lyrics, she 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. What more can we expect from real poetry, from true art?”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Two people form a habit,” writes Lleshanaku; “Three people make a story”: this harshly memorable collection (her second in English translation) overflows with stories, incidents of suffering, worry, and hardship related in verse fragments, in mysterious details, in horrifying or revealing asides. Albania, Lleshanaku's native land, suffered through decades of poverty under a Stalinist dictatorship, then suffered again in the chaos and uneven development that came after 1989. Her tableaux of exhausted villagers, smuggled books, and constant frustration reflect her nation, caught between the Third World and the First: village eccentrics, exhausted mothers, and lost children stroll and scatter through her bedraggled gardens, looking up for airplanes overhead. The poems also reflect her self-critical, alert, and skeptical personality. “Monday feels like an odd shoe/ its other chewed by the dog tied at the gate,” one seven-part long poem begins; within her childhood memories, “Broken toys were my playthings.” In one of many poems about Albanian families trapped in collapsing small towns, a mountain in the distance offers eternal, impossible promises of better lives, while the citizens work themselves to death: “The electrocardiogram of sweat dried in the body/ spreads from shirt to shirt/ contagious as a flame.” (Feb.)
Peter Moysaenko - Bomblog
“Lleshanaku's verse offers allegory with a twist, rationality tinged with romance that makes no promise of deliverance.”
Allen Grossman
“She is a love poet…. She makes explicit what it means to live in a violent and corrupt public world which penetrates privacy and betrays every intimacy.”
Dana Jennings - The New York Times
“[H]er gentle poems are subtle and rarely polemical, as they dwell on her past... in the end, we feel blessed that Ms. Lleshanaku has invited us to 'the takeoffs and landings/on the runway of her soul.'”
Multicultural Review
“Lleshanaku does not dwell on the harsh past and the brutal climate she knew as a child. Rather, she celebrates the variety of new experience, filling her verse with powerful imagery and stark, surprising visions.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811218474
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 2/25/2010
  • Pages: 108
  • Sales rank: 987,963
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Luljeta Lleshanaku was born in Elbasan, Albania in 1968. Under Enver Hoxha’s Stalinist dictatorship, she grew up under house arrest. Lleshanaku was not permitted to attend college or publish her poetry until the weakening and eventual collapse of the regime in the early 1990s. She studied Albanian philology at the University of Tirana, and has worked as a schoolteacher, literary magazine editor, and journalist.

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