On September 2, 2017 i flew out of Dulles Airport with Hülya N Yılmaz to attend the 3rd edition of The Kosovo International Poetry Festival hosted by my brother Fahredin Shehu and the City of Rahovec. This was my second time, with the first being with Janet Perkins Caldwell in September of 2015. I cannot begin to even express the high blessing of my attendance and participation in such an esteemed event. 2015 was my first such event. I was blessed to meet so many wonderful poets from all over the world with whom we shared a commonality of love, humanity, peace and poetry. Amongst them in 2015 was another very special soul in the name of Nizar Sartawi who embraced me in a brotherhood i shall never let go. There are so many other wonderful souls i have met that at this time name them all. Each one i do cherish! Each one has contributed to my growth as a human being and a poet.
At the first such festival in Kosovo, i was honored to have my book “The Vine Keeper” featured. I was also named Poet Laureate and awarded The Golden Grape Award. I was so inspired during event i wrote a book titled “O Sweet Kosovo . . . dreams of Rahovec”. Since then, this book has been translated into Albanian by Fahredin Shehu and published by Fund for Cultural Education and Heritage-FEKT in Kosovo.
The book has also been adopted into the curriculum at the local High School system of Rahovec. We also had an awesome book launch which was totally unexpected and quite humbling.
In light of all that has transpired as a result of my first International Poetry Festival, i am lost for words. I am extremely grateful to Fahredin for his gracious invite back in 2015 and again in 2017. I am so looking forward to returning to my 2nd home, “O Sweet Kosovo”. It is because of my participation in Kosovo that my poetic horizons have expanded beyond my expectations to include Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, India, Macedonia and many more to come. My intention is to poetically journey my visits to each of these countries as i have done in Kosovo and Morocco. My Book “Morocco Love” has since been translated into Arabic by my brother Nizar Sartawi.
I thank You Fahredin, Besa and all the Visionaries, Organizers, Host Countries, Support Personnel and Sponsors of these wonderful and needed events for the work you do for humanity and the poetry of your efforts. And a special thank you to the people, the poets and the country of my O Sweet Kosovo.