Fatos Arapi is an Albanian poet, short story writer, translator and journalist, laureate of the Struga Poetry Evenings Golden Wreath Award for 2008.
Born in 1930 in the village of Zvërnec near Vlorë, he studied economics in Sofia, Bulgaria from 1949 to 1954, then started to work as a journalist in Tirana. He soon made a name for himself as a poet, and went on to work as a researcher for the History and Philology Department of Tirana University. He now lives in Tirana.
Never fearing innovation, despite the cultural isolation of his country, Arapi has been a pioneer of free verse and experimental poetry in 1960s Albanian literature. Born on the seaside, the maritime universe has always inspired his verses, as has Albania's troubled history. He has also written meditative poetry, love poems and elegies, with the eternal questions on life and death as a recurrent theme.
He translated into Albanian the works of such outstanding poets as Sapho, Pablo Neruda and Nikola Vaptsarov. He was the editor-in-chief of two anthologies: Songs of the Peoples and Anthology of Turkish Verse.
His Published work includes: Shtigjet poetike (Poetic Paths) 1962, Poema dhe vjersha (Poems and Verses) 1966, Ritme të hekura (Rhythms of Iron) 1968, Më jepni një emër (Give Me A Name), 1972 (later banned by Enver Hoxha's regime), Gloria Victis, 1997, Eklipsi i endrrës (Eclipse of the Dream) 2002. He has also written the following books with short stories and plays: Patate e egra (Wild Potatoes) 1970, Dikush më buzëqeshte (Someone Smiled At Me) 1972, Gjeniu pa kokë (Headless Genius) 1999, Partizani pa emër (The Anonymous Partisan) 1962, Qezari dhe ushtari i mirë Shvejk (Caesar and the Good Soldier Švejk) 1995.
The Fatherland is pain, it is pain. A sad April in the soul. The Fatherland is the cross, it is the cross. You hold it, and it holds you in the spirit.
The Fatherland is the Promised Land. You walk like a god and your feet don’t feel. The Fatherland has no words, it has sad eyes. The love in love that drives you crazy dies.
The Fatherland is the hungry bread, It escapes from your hands and you can’t feed it; A dream and anxiety and worn-out hope; In the darkness with your eyes you search for yourself.
The Fatherland is an open grave, it is a grave. Your life goes towards it with a persuaded trust. In a teardrop the unfortunate tear is drowned. In a teardrop freedom is born.
Your fatherland the small, the small The divine, immortal like the tears.
Grandma in a casket like a doll in a box, Complete… and yet not completely there, like she isn’t like usual. All hairclips and needles satin clipped to her hair, shoes tied at her feet, handkerchief and flowers in her chest. Her eyelids closed c'ndjej u shua brenda tyre?).
You look… and silence is visible pe gjasme e pe gjasme vdekja.
Grandmother, small and beautiful clean... doll in her box.
All hairclips and needles, sawn in many year, tied with memories and longing, pains, that look like fairytales.
You look… and silence is visible.