Power of a Poem

By Lindsey Bever

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