Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?
I was born on a cold winter day, during a very significant year for my small country of Albania, in 1990 – the year when Albanians reached their dream to live free in democracy. Following the western concept of government, they abandoned a decades-long system of dictatorship. So, I was born in a year of hopes and the birth of beautifully strong beliefs. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communication Sciences. During these years I was appreciated as one of the best students of my country, and on two occasions I won a medal awarded to excellent students. Perhaps it was these maximum achievements in the academic field which helped provide me the opportunity to become a professor at the age of 23, a profession which I continue today. I feel that this work creates an inexhaustible passion for me. I started writing at the age of 8, and since that time I haven’t stopped writing for a single day.
It was the end of December in 1998 when I wrote my first poem, and it makes me feel good to recall that this first attempt to write a poem was dedicated to the theme of gratitude. No matter what makes us feel grateful, the long journey of life will still set before us many challenges on our path, and so it is important not to lose within ourselves the feeling of being thankful.
I cannot say for sure how the initial inspiration started, but I know that it was during the time when I was in elementary school that I first began writing. My elementary school teacher was always telling my parents: “It is impossible for a child at this age to have these articulation of views. I have 30 years in this profession, and I have not ever seen such a talented kid.”
These words influenced my mother in that she began encouraging me to write. She donated books of poetry for me to read and always supported me, showing me how astonished she was from the things I wrote (at that time, like a naive child, I was too thrilled, but now I realize that this was simply the awe of a mother for her daughter, not necessarily for the first steps of these early verses that were not yet poetry, and so she was my real inspiration).
I read a lot of poetry, read daily, because a book is an inexhaustible source of love for me. I do not have favorite poets, I just love poems. I do not start off judging what to read based on the poetic authority that a particular author has.
How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?
Since I started writing the first lines on paper, at 18 years of age, I have not stopped writing for even a single day. I write every day; every day I put something down on paper (though not all the pages deserve to be called literary writings, and most of them stand apart in the notebook without being published anywhere). I force myself to work and exercise without an end. Work and experience are just as important as inspiration. I believe that inspiration is a daily driving force, but also equally believe that daily work is needed. The brain is a muscle, and like any muscle it needs to work; you have to always be engaged in mental activity.
Before writing, I was a mischievous girl, very noisy and unstable. Once I started writing, I gained the wisdom of thinking, reasoning, and peace. However, something still did not change: the fact of being rebellious, recalcitrant, and uncompromising except with myself.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I’m active in social networks, but not enough to be handled by them. I generally use them to publish my poems. Earlier, I maintained a blog where I published poems, which were mostly from my first book (published in 2008) and my second book (published in 2010). But, because of the load of chores, I gave up the management of the blog. But, again, I do publish poems on social networks, and a number of my poems translated into English have appeared in international journals from different countries.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
Besides the virtual communities where different poets from around the globe share their verses and writings amongst each other, there are also literary activities organized occasionally in my country which I participate in. I almost always attend such events whenever I am able, and I follow the developments with great interest. But a more important role in the promotion of culture and literature is played by the print and online magazines that accept international submissions and publish poets from every corner of the world. Their work is truly appreciated, and in this case it is your magazine. I think I will never be able to thank them enough for the wonderful work their magazines do on behalf of the passion and love they have for art; while the editors who work for them invest their time and often lose materially, in the larger picture they gain something much more important: the preservation of art, and a recognition of their spirit as people who are keepers of beauty.
I read different types of work simultaneously: books of poetry, books related to the subjects I teach in the faculty, and books connected with public communication. These three areas are also three of my passions and so I try to interlace them in order to find the commonalities.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
People write poetry to clean their soul…
If poetry does not have the power to make you a better person than who you are, do not write poetry.
If poetry does not give you idealism to see the reality among sensations, do not write poetry.
If poetry does not make you crazy enough to believe that a verse of yours can freeze storms, do not write poetry.
If poetry does not come from the heart, but the mind, do not write poetry.
Do not write because it would be a waste of time; poetry does not enrich materially, but poetry does enrich one’s humanity.
But if you feel that spark of light welling up in your chest, and if that living spirit takes you away, do not ever stop writing!
Poets suffer so much to ensure the string of their ideas reaches the perfection that they dream, but this suffering is only worth it if the happiness that one takes in bringing this creation to life is of the same degree. When you birth the creation of poetry, inspiration is conceived to see life through a lens of hope and to believe in the future….