Luan Rama is a scholar, filmmaker, editor and writer born in Tirana in 1952. He graduated in journalism from the Faculty of Political and Juridical Sciences, University of Tirana, and subsequently specialised in filmmaking and communication at Paris VII Denis Diderot University. His career spans more than 14 years as screenwriter for many award-winning feature films, documentaries and cartoons for Albanian cinematic studios.
Rama is author of 30 books, including novels, stories and historical books, such as Literary Paris, Last Trip of Arthur Rimbaud, The Autumn of Alberto Saviani, François Mitterand – Gods Die Also and two volumes of poetry published in French, Territories of the Soul and Cover Me with a Piece of Sky (Territoires de l’ âme and Couvrez-moi avec un morceau de ciel).
Luan Rama is a distinguished diplomat who has served as an ambassador of Albania from 1992–2005 in Paris, Lisbon and Monaco. He has represented Albania as the country’s cultural diplomat at UNESCO and the International Organisation of La Francophonie (1997–2003).
For distinguished service to his country and his excellence in writing, Luan Rama has been awarded many honours, such as the Naim Frashëri medal in 1986 by the President of the Republic of Albania; the 2002 Grand Officier of the Ordre National du Mérite (Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit) by French President Jacques Chirac; the 2001 European Award for Le long chemin sous le tunnel de Platon by the Association of French Language Writers, Paris; and the 2014 Personality of La Francophonie by the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Luan Rama lives in Paris, where he lectures in geopolitics at the Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisation (Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales).
Arben Shehi blew out his candle last night…
Poets fall like sparrows,
Struck by lightning,
Too close to the storm and the sun.
Poets are the wounded heart of game birds:
That’s why they are the first to plummet
Towards an endless death
In a life of twilight.
Poets take the first blow:
They have embodied the fires and heavenly voices
And so by Olympus are condemned.
They die before their time
From the life-long labour
Of sowing love throughout their days.
From a lover’s loss and yearning tears
They stop hearts and break one’s breath
When in their death, they drop.
The poet’s searing gaze is brimmed with tears…
My country is a narrative
Ancient as the world,
It’s a slope that descends in sweeps,
Like broken eagle wings.
It’s a river of tears
Emptying into a sea of bitterness,
It’s a bitter and tenebrous spring.
My country is the sigh that pierces the skies.
It’s a barren land, uncropped,
A haemorrhaged soul sobering
Under a candlelight.
It’s a lonely olive branch that shakes its wind-gaunt fingers
Over graves with nameless stones.
My country is an abandoned village
Of dried-up wells and locked doors.
My country is an unfinished poem.
It’s that guest-less hostel on the empty mountain road
That takes you nowhere,
It’s a shrivelled vineyard, a flattened forest
And a waste of land razed bare.
It’s an immigrant who keeps his mother’s note
With words of promise in his overcoat,
It’s a laggard’s return under a too-bright sun.
Alas, my country has become a market rout,
For those who love power have bought and sold her,
Sleeping and waking.
It’s an orgy of purulent politicians
Who know too well how to promise paradise
But my country is… yet a playground
Of children who skip on along paths of hope,
It’s a sunny reverie,
Like a shadow in the steps of a girl with bouncing breasts.
It’s the sweet kiss of the one I caress
And the wedding that follows in the fall.
My country is, and will ever after be
fairy tale enthralling, binding me.
Yes, that day
I forgot it was raining
While that Heavenly water sheeted me all over.
Unconscious of the time,
And the falling dusk,
I forgot what day it was,
What month and year.
I was in love!
I forgot the clock hands were spinning,
I forgot to get off at my stop;
I kept walking, in oblivion,
In a world without metro, trams, buses;
Yes, that day I was in love!
I forgot that linden trees that lined the streets were budding
And the scent had invaded the earth
Those first days of summer.
I forgot that they were waiting for me at the grand concert,
I forgot why my neighbour was so happy –
She was getting married on Sunday –
I had forgotten all the sorrows, torments, retributions,
I had forgotten my 20 years of exile
And I did not know to which country, people, I belonged.
I was in love.
Night came to my bed
And pressing on my eyelids gently whispered:
Go to sleep now…
was in love…
The train is moving.
Opposite me, she is sleeping.
That leg slightly raised
Calls to mind the artist’s model
Posed against her seat.
The train is on the move, raindrops running along the windscreen,
Clouds slipping past
A forgotten tree, naked, lonely,
And saturated in the rain,
While she, eyes closed
Floats away in her dream.
Where is she going, where?
In which arms, on what shores?
I put the book aside and gaze:
One leg still raised
And plump lips, red,
Long manicured fingers twined in her hair
Moving up and down, breathing, it seems,
In unison with all women in love,
Kissed, ecstatic, in their morning sleep.
She stirs as if
Ready to take it in her arms,
This grey century,
Sleepwalk it to the Delphic oracle.
Since I don’t have a pencil,
And have not a painter’s skill,
I begin to sketch her portrait with my eyes:
I trace the eyebrows, eyelashes,
Move across the warm cheeks,
Rest a little on the oval chin,
Continue to adumbrate
As if I were Man Ray
In the light of his atelier.
I draw these lineaments of a stranger
In her golden age,
Like a Simonetta of Botticelli
Like a Hendricke of Rembrandt,
Wearing the face of first love.
There, in that seat, at that moment,
All the women of the world were sleeping there
Behind her eyes
And that slightly raised leg:
The artist’s model, just at arm’s length,
Fruit from the tree of knowledge.
Ssshhh… she is sleeping…
But suddenly she awoke,
Her lips opened like rose petals.
She glanced at me.
I looked at her.
She laughed amicably,
And then timidly, I closed my eyes,
To sleep in another world,
With another someone…