Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: BAGS by Blerina Rogova Gaxha, translated by Vlora Konushevci

and just like that
it was time to pack up and leave
to roll up my life
move it from the small apartment
into a larger one

black bags white bags
nothing fits in there easily 
a life well folded
tightened into the cupboards
clothes, shoes, panties, rings, blank pictures and frames
big earrings rusty earrings forgotten ones in the boxes
old and new books
books on every side
yet how can life fit bit by bit into bags 
clenched jammed zipped 
folded unfolded 
it dissolves into black and white bags
piece by piece my carefully folded life
scents and perfumes spread throughout the room but
before leaving someone has to collect things
my husband lets me know that time is running out
I don't know how to gather life bit by bit
how to squeeze it into white and black bags
nylon bags hemp bags paper bags
a piece of life here a piece there 

I'm scared of plucking well-folded memories 
a necklace a bracelet a white blouse
all black shirts
someone has to collect the items
put them in bags and carry them
until dust covers them again
to put the eighth-floor sky in some black bag
or a blue one or grey
in what bag shall I put you
in what bag should I put myself 
there are no more bags 
(I've ran out of bags)
I don't have a bag for my black boots
for my cashmere coat

Can anyone lend me some bags for my life 
some bags to lend for my life 
to put my dreams there 
one by one to fold them beautifully 
woven bags with plant fibres for the life which refuses
to come with me
to fold my memories in silk bags
in those purple bags
but someone has to collect some things before leaving
both dust and sludge and spider webs
to leave it clean for the new owner

alas, there is something that does not fit in the bag
as there are such small bags and giant bags with no bottom or top 
that you just can't lift.

By Blerina Rogova Gaxha

Translated by Vlora Konushevci

Blerina Rogova Gaxha was born in Kosovo. She is a poet, essayist, and literary scholar; she has a Ph.D in literary sciences. Laureate of the International Prize for Literature “Crystal Vilenica Award” (Slovenia, 2015), and the National Prize for the best work in poetry (2020), she has given numerous presentations at literary festivals and bookfairs in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Ireland, and Macedonia, and she has been a guest writer at international writers’ residencies in Vienna, Split, and Novo Mesto. Her poems and essays have been translated and published in German, English, French, Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Turkish, Bosnian, and Macedonian. Her work has been presented in the anthology of European poetry Europe Grand Tour, 2019. Gaxha’s essay “Easy Life,” written for the project Archipelago Yugoslavia of Traduk, has been translated into several languages ​​and published in major Western media. She is a member of the Kosovo PEN Center. She has published Gorgona (poetry, 2009, winner of the National Prize for Poetry, 2010), Kate (poetry, 2013), Forms of Kadare’s prose (literary criticism, 2015), She comes from the East (poetry, 2016), Thasë (poetry, 2020), and Death in modern Albanian literature: Ndre Mjedja, Lasgush Poradeci, Mitrush Kuteli (monograph, 2021).

Vlora Konushevci was born in Kosovo. She completed her studies in English language and literature at the University of Prishtina, where she continued her master’s studies in linguistics. She published her first book of verse, Lavdi Vetes (2019), supported by Kosovo’s Ministry of Culture. She compiled and translated Poetry without borders, a bilingual anthology of Balkan poets (Albanian and Serbian); this project was supported by the UN mission in Kosovo. She is a fierce advocate of equality and has written numerous articles for national newspapers on this subject. She is the author of the lyrics of the song “Ajo asht ba,” which has launched the “16 days of activism” campaign against violence against women organized by UN agencies in Kosovo. Winner of many awards including the “Poetry for Peace” award organized by KultPlus and UN Women, Konushevci’s poems and translations have been published in many literary magazines and cultural portals in Kosovo and abroad. She is a part of the Alternative War anthology, published by B Cubed Press (2021, USA) and was also published in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review (2021, USA). In 2019 she established the online platform www.poetetshqiptare.com, where approximately 100 Albanian women poets are presented. In January 2022, she published a bilingual (Albanian and English) anthology of 30 Albanian women poets under the title Magma, a project supported by Kosovo’s Ministry of Culture.

Photo by Lisa Kalloo

Check out the Poetry Travels book list on bookshop.org.

Read previous poems from Poetry Travels:

TONGUEFISH by Yolanda Castaño, translated by Keith Payne

WHAT DO YOU NEED by Friederike Mayröcker, translated by Christina Daub

A WORK OF BIOGRAPHY by Max Jacob, translated by Ian Seed

UNTITLED POEM by Ivano Fermini, translated by Ian Seed


LIGHT by Vasyl Makhno, translated by Olena Jennings

A MESSAGE FROM THE ISLE OF WIGHT by Wioletta Greg, translated by Maria Jastrzębska and Anna Blasiak

HOME by Nataša Sardžoska, translated by the Author

ONLY THE BEGINNING COUNTS (4) by Jan Baeke, translated by Antoinette Fawcett

*** (RABID WINDS) by Gerður Kristný, translated by Rory McTurk

ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS by Vainius Bakas, translated by Kerry Shawn Keys

AGGRESSOR’S MONOLOGUE by Artūras Valionis, translated by Jura Avizienis

THAT’S ALL by Jurgita Jasponytė, translated by Jura Avizienis

UNTITLED by Linas Umbrasas, translated by Audra Skukauskaitė

FIRST SPRING OF THE WAR by Vytautas Kaziela, translated by Jura Avizienis

A LETTER TO A CHILD by Lina Buidavičiutė, translated by Ada Valaitis

UNTITLED by Aneta Kamińska, translated by Anna Blasiak

TWO LYRICS OF LOVE AND MEMORY by Lina Kostenko, translated by Stephen Komarnyckyj

CROW STUDY by Yuri Andrukhovych, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin

UNTITLED POEM by Ludmila Khersonsky, translated by Maya Chhabra

UNTITLED POEM by Iryna Vikyrchak

From THE ANDROMEDA NEBULA by Anna Gréki, translated by Souheila Haïmiche and Cristina Viti

TEAPOT by Nurduran Duman, translated by Andrew Wessels

IT’S COMING AGAIN by Michael Strunge, translated by Paul Russell Garrett

REPORT FROM ANOTHER CITY by Marcin Niewirowicz, translated by the Author

INTERIOR by Ana Blandiana, translated by Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

THIS IS LOVE by Joanna Fligiel, translated by Anna Blasiak

REVELATION IN H&M by Menno Wigman, translated by David Colmer

*** (I WANT TO FOLD THIS DAY) by Inga Pizāne, translated by Jayde Will

THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

Category: TranslationsPoetry TravelsBlogs


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *