Olimbi VELAJ

Olimbi VELAJ


Olimbi VELAJ (1971) was born in Mallakastra, Albania. She studied in Tirana and Sofia. Velaj is author of the lyric volumes Çastet vdesin nën akrepa orësh (Moments perish under the hands of clocks), Tirana, 1998; and Qenia pasdite (Afternoon existence), bilingual volume (Albanian-English, Tirana, 2003. Velaj is reprezentative poet in several magazines in Albanian language. Her poetry is published in 15 languages, in Balkan countries, in Europe, USA and Azia in some of literature magazines and anthology. She has been partecipant in a number of poetry festivals and she has nominations and awards for her poetry. Velaj translates into Albanian contemporary poets.

She works as a lecturer in Albanian Literature of XX century, Creative Writing and World Literature of the Nineteenth Century; she is Head of Literature Department, Faculty of Education “Aleksandër Moisiu” University, Durrës, Albania. Also she is teaching Albanian Language, Literature and Culture in University of Belgrade, Department of Albanology.

Velaj has worked as a journalist in cultural issues from 1993 till 2008 and she was one of representative journalist during transition, after communist regime in Albania. As a journalist she has published widely in cultural heritage and folklore. During 1997-1998 she had a research fellowship in Sofia University, focused on comparative studies on Ballads of the Balkans. Her PhD topic (2012) was “The Albanian ballad in the inter-Balkan context”. Her research interests are in areas of oral based literature and poetry, ballad theory and folk songs.


We hope yet

Here comes the time of bells

With the dead sighing

Under black suits

And dry flowers

Air tightens under the silent weight

Of anxiety in the church yard

Surrounded with smelling paraffin

Angels wandering on the walls

According to faith and desire

Time takes another shape

Under tired faces of saints

And rumbling psalms

I would like to die

In one of these days

Without my atheism

Or the distant erotic

Reaching the sky

Before prayers and candles


You too remember

Those old times

With naïve calls and postcards

Summer, like an apocalypse, had flown away

Over our bodies and dreams

Waiting, overwhelmed with anxiety

As embassies creaked under screams

I cannot forget your conviction

And the pure light

Under that sky of departure hours…

Then rains came back

Our longing grew distant

And anxiety kept fading

Like an ice cube with melted corners

Senses experienced other moods

And impressions became vague

Like thirst going out of attention

Now I remember you quite accidentally,

Unconsciously, as if you were a participant

In a ritual anniversary where reason cannot work


This woman fearing fading

Like a beacon in a remote station

Makes me freeze

In her walk, insecurity is the rhythm

And lost direction, she is a sailor

Trusting no more in his own return

Maybe an ordinary story

Ends with her shadow:

A silent childhood spent on schoolbooks

And shop queues

Scarce toys, economic love…

Then a long time of misunderstanding

An empty life of self-exclusion

Here she is now standing

Face to face with vanity

She has no reason to make haste

So she is all ears as air feeds her

On the regular striking of bells

Announcing the end of time

Hour after hour

English translation by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj