Power of a Poem

By Lindsey Bever | Full Story

He heard the gunshots of approaching Albanian soldiers before he made it to the border. He thought he had outsmarted them, weaving his blanket through the barbed wire — only a kilometer from the former Yugoslav border near Podgorica, Montenegro — to block the sensors that would alert the communist army of his crossing. But his plan failed. They were coming to take him home. So just after midnight on Sept. 12, 1990, 25-yearold Gjekë Marinaj started running.

“When I got on the top of the hill and across the border, I had a chance to look over the whole field where my house is, thinking, ‘You are going to say goodbye to that forever,’ because at that time, it was still communism in power,” said Marinaj, 46, who moved to Richardson 20 years ago. “You just feel tears running down your face.”

In 1990, when native journalists who did not work hard enough to promote the Communist Party of Albania could be imprisoned, Marinaj had written and published a radical anti-government poem that helped trigger the uprising that would finally free his people.

Power of a Poem – in PDF

An interview with Shin Yu Pai

Reunion, The Dallas Review, Vol 2, 2012


A former Dallas resident, Shin Yu Pai grew up in the Inland Empireof Southem California and has lived and worked in Boston, Madrid, Boulder, Chicago, Dallas, Taipei, and Seattle. She is an award-winning oral historian, photographer, and editor with a long history of working in the nonprofit, museum, and education industries.

She is the author of seven books of poetry, including most recently Hybrid Land (FilterPress,2011), Adamantine (White Pine,2010), Haiku Not Bombs (Booklyn Artists Alliance, 2008), and her poems have been published throughout the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, The United Kingdom, and Canada. Since 2010,she has been a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

She has completed residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Ragdale Foundation, Soul Mountain, Taipei Artist Village, the Centrum Foundation and the Seattle Art Museum. She is former assistant curator for the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-SanMarcos and currently serves as managing director of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programsin Literature & Language.

An interview with Shin Yu Pai – in PDF

An interview with Gjekë Marinaj

Prietenul Albanezului, Nr. 129-130, 2012

Prietenul Albanezului – in PDF

Marinaj – Molitva

ARS, Nr. 4-5, 2012

ARS – in PDF

Haiku and the theory of Protonism

Spektar, No. 60, 2012

by Afrim A Rexhepi, PhD

Haiku and the theory of Protonism – in PDF

Albania, a country free from the epidemic of anti-Semitism

Illyria, Volume 21, 2012

By Gjekë Marinaj

ng scholars, diplomats, and ordinary citizens — have written and testified that every Jew who stayed within the borders of Albania during the Holo- caust managed to survive. But all the studies and proclamations are not suf- ficient to understand the magnitude of this group demonstration of com – passion that took place in Albania dur- ing the Holocaust — the worst organ – ized crime ever committed in the his- tory of humankind. Escaping from such countries as Germany, Austria, Poland, Russia, Ser- bia, Greece, and Kosova, some 2,000 Jews entered Albania between 1939 and 1944.

They joined approximately 200 Albanian Jews who were already residents of the country. The new arrivals carried with them memories of the homes and Jewish communities they had left behind, and mourned family members, children, and loved ones who died of hunger in the ghettos, were executed, or were brutally mur- dered in the gas chambers by the Nazis. They took a great risk by trusting their lives with Albania, one of the smallest, poorest, and most primitive countries in Europe at the time.

Albania free from anti-Semitism – in PDF

The Folk and the Classics

American Arts – Quarterly, Winter 2012

By Frederick Turner | Full Story

Stopping for a drink in a tiny village in the remote mountains of Northern Albania, my friends and I were treated to a very ancient ritual. One of my travelling companions was an Albanian poet, Gjekë Marinaj, and his face is well known all over Malësia e Madhe. He introduced me as an American poet to the few people in the bar, and soon more people began to arrive. A huge unlabeled bottle of rakia appeared, to be drunk out of little heavy shot glasses.

Food was served, though we were not hungry, having recently lunched on a whole lamb slaughtered for the occasion by the family of one of the oral poets of the region. Any payment was refused, though these are poor folk by citified Western standards. We were toasted and made much of, and when we departed I was given a small bag of recently caught trout from the roaring stream outside, another bottle of white lightning and an elegant miniature model of the lahuta, the one-stringed, goat-headed bowed lute with which Balkan poets punctuate their verses.

“The Folk and the Classics” – in PDF

Protonism: The Role of Positive Literary Critiques in Contemporary American Writing

Tranparent Eyball, 2012

By Kristen M. Walker

Literary criticism is deeply ingrained in the American people, with many individuals skimming book jackets, looking up book reviews online, and asking friends and colleagues for recommendations before reading a particular piece of literature. These reviews can be positive or negative, but people tend to give more weight to positive reviews because they focus on the universal characteristics of a work that makes it appealing. Negative reviews are often written off by assuming that the person giving the review just has different taste or doesn’t know what good literature is.

One way to explain this phenomenon is with the literary theory of Gjekë Marinaj. This Albanian-born author who immigrated to the United States in 1991 outlines the theory in his book Protonizmi: Nga Teoria në Praktikë (Protonism: Theory Into Practice). The theory is called Protonism because it borrows the concepts of the positive and negative from the chemical structure of atoms, which contain protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Protonism: The Role of Positive Literary Critiques…in PDF

Studiuesi i letërsisë Gjekë Marinaj rrëfen në Nacional emocionet e tij pas marrjes së Çmimit Albanian Booker Man

Jeta Katolike, 2012
Intervistë nga Mujë Buçpapaj

Marinaj: Çmimin e konsideroj një nder të madh me përmasa interpersonale.

Mujë Buçpapaj: Kompania Mediatike dhe e Botimeve “Nacional Grup”, ku përfshihet edhe gazeta Nacional, nisur nga një praktikë e njohur ndërkombëtare, kanë vendosur t’u japin çmimin vjetor “Albanian Booker Man Prize”, për arritjen më të shquar vjetore për vitin 2011, në fushën e Kritikës Letrare me librin “Protonizmi: Nga teoria në praktikë”. Si e vlerësoni këtë nderim?

Gjekë Marinaj: Çmimin Albanian Booker Man e konsideroj një nder të madh me përmase interpersonale për dy arsye, që në natyrën filozofike rezonojnë si centrifugale. Të parën do e krahasoja me një parabolë matematike. Të dytën me një hiperbolë letrare.

Parabola që të jetë parabolë, duhet të jetë subjekt tek disa veti specifike. Edhe shkrimtari që të jetë shkrimtar, duhet të përmbushë kërkesat minimale për t’u konsideruar shkrimtar. Kjo dhunti artistike nuk është vetëm segment i zgjatur nga ligjet e natyrës, por fitohet në akord me linjat epistemologjike.

Studiuesi i letërsisë Gjekë Marinaj…in PDF

Apraksin Blues:

A Russian translation of Gjekë Marinaj’s article on the photography of Gregory Crewdson appears in the winter-spring 2012 issue of the magazine Apraksin Blues. Founded in St. Petersburg in 1995, the Russian-American multidisciplinary magazine bridges the humanities and sciences, including prose, poetry and visual arts, interviews and reviews, scholarly analysis and personal essays. For more information, see

Introductory remarks from Apraksin Blues note Marinaj’s work as a poet and translator, his contributions to literary and translation theory, and the personal ethnographic studies behind his Slung Across the Shoulder: Heroic Poetry of Illyria. The article on photographer Crewdson is described as “a model of attentiveness” to the culture of the country he and Marinaj share. “In Marinaj’s view, the photographer has a remarkable ability to penetrate the psychological core of the American consciousness and thus to contribute significantly to the development of the art of photography as a whole.”

According to Marinaj, “Crewdson’s made photography is intended to serve humanity not in retrospect but in the present and future. To achieve this, his work goes beyond the traditional parameters of artistic and intellectual methods of photography composition. This holds true especially in terms of his personal effort to produce works of art rooted in the realism of life – even if this realism must be invented.”

Apraksin Blues 21 (PDF)


On January 31st, 2012, Albania’s leading art, literature and culture tabloid Nacional dedicated its first 16 pages to Marinaj’s winning of the Albanian BookerMan Prize for Literature. The National Media Group honored Marinaj for his achievement in literary criticism for his book Protonism:

Theory Into Practice, and awarded him the prize on January 30, 2012, in Tirana, Albania. The Nacional issue included an interview with Marinaj, comprehensive coverage of the event, and many articles and reviews on the Protonism Theory.

Nacional 132 (PDF)

Student’s Passion for Poetry Overcomes Sacrifice

UT Dallas News

In 1990, Gjekë Marinaj was fleeing through the mountains from his home country of Albania into the former Yugoslavia. He was being pursued by Albanian secret police with tracker dogs. Marinaj’s crime: writing a poem.

“Horses” was a thinly veiled satire on the totalitarian oppressive system of the time. The same day the poem was printed in the newspaper, Marinaj was ordered to police headquarters. He never showed.

Eventually, he made his way to the United States and is now working on his doctorate in literature at UT Dallas. His research and work involve the philosophy of translation.

“I have received an incredible education at UT Dallas, and I hope to pass on what I’ve learned,” said Marinaj.
With Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities Dr. Frederick Turner, Marinaj has recently published Sung Across the Shoulder: Heroic Poetry of Illyria, a collection of Albanian oral folk-poetry.

Turning the poetry from spoken performance into print was no easy task. Since none of the poems had ever been written down, Marinaj traveled to inns and coffee-houses deep in the Albanian mountains to record the poets reciting their verse. Marinaj also photographed the speakers and the venues of their performances.