The Prisoner of Absence by Gjeke Marinaj, launched in Bucharest

Prisoner in Absence – romanian


On August 12, 2013, in a select club in Bucharest, Gjekë Marinaj launched his volume of poetry, The Prisoner of Absence. The poet, a college instructor in Dallas, Texas, and an American resident since 1991, was present to autograph editions for his friends and sympathizers. The publication, an anthology of the Albanian-American author’s poetry, is introduced by literary critic Radu Voiculescu. In addition to the poet and Voiculescu, also present were Luan Topciu, diplomat and author of an anthology of contemporary and classic Albanian poetry, essayist and editor Vlad Zografi, journalist Maria Dobrescu, and other Albanian literary luminaries and distinguished civic leaders and journalists.

The translator of Marinaj’s poems, writer Marius Dobrescu, says “Marinaj’s poetry brings a fresh breath to contemporary Albanian poetry: It is ‘contaminated’ with the philosophical substance of the author, which gives it a special aura, one of great refinement, and puts it in the highest echelons of poetic European thinking.”

Gjekë Marinaj sign books in Bucharest, Romania

Luan Topciu, recognized as a fine connoisseur of Romanian and Albanian lyrics, fondly noted that a common element found in the works of all Albanian writers, especially those from the diaspora, is a local melancholy about their country of origin, which offers a superior lyrical power to every poem and phrase. The volume’s prefacer, critic Radu Voiculescu, reiterated some of the remarks from his foreword: “The images in Albania are always present in the mind of the author, who lives between two worlds: one of memories, of native identity, the other of a new homeland, where the first identity surfaces insuppressibly, in the most unexpected of moments. In the avalanche of images, surely those of the parents prevail, and they will be found by the reader that has the good will to linger upon the volume’s pages.” Because Gjeke Marinaj, like any true Balkan, has a strong feel of the community from which he descends. He envisions family as a primordial, indestructible universe.

The launch of The Prisoner of Absence in Bucharest was an excellent opportunity for Albanian creators, regardless of what continent they are on, to show their support for the creative arts, and to demonstrate that the Albanian verve can exist and flourish, wherever it may be.

Marius Dobrescu