The Death of Night: A collection full of surprising joys

By Kevin Higgins*

NDREK GJINI began attending the University of Shkoder in his native Albania in 1984 when the country’s ageing ultra-Stalinist dictator, Enver Hoxha, was still organising lavish pageants in honour of himself.
Ndrek is currently completing an MA in writing in the hopefully somewhat more liberal atmosphere of NUI Galway. The title of his new book The Death Of Night (EMAL), combined with its severe, funereal cover, lead the reader to expect exactly what Ndrek Gjini delivers: poems as dark as dark can be.
‘Closed Doors’ ends abruptly with the lines “I started to hate the closure of doors./To me they sound like coffin lids.” However, Gjini is also a very playful poet. ‘Learning difficulties’ demands to be quoted in full: “There were two years,/only two years/that I needed to learn/how to speak./However,/now another forty-five years have passed/and I am not able to learn/how to keep my mouth shut.”
The satirical stab in the last line is in many ways emblematic of Gjini’s poetry. Proof positive of his seriousness as a poet is his ability to laugh at himself. This wit is also applied to the world outside himself, as in ‘GM Products’: “When all is said and done,/one thing still bothers me:/are we eating this food/or is this food eating us?”
Ndrek Gjini uses words sparingly, but his poems have a lot to say to us. A collection full of surprising joys.


* Kevin Higgins is Poetry Workshop Facilitator at Galway Arts Centre, co-organiser at Over The Edge, poet, critic, creative writing teacher, events organiser, Book Reviewer & Poetry Critic at Galway Advertiser.