Seeing infinity in a grain of sand

REVIEW: The Death of Night. Selected poems by Ndrek Gjini. Pbck. 89pp. Emal publishers. ISBN 9928-04-026-5

By Prof.Adrian Frazier*

Ndrek Gjini was born in Albania in the 1960s. From 1984 to 1988, he was a student at the University of Shkoder, “Luigj Gurakuqi” in Albania. After graduation he worked as a teacher for a few years, then became a full-time journalist. During these years he published poems, books, and many newspaper articles in the Albanian language.

In 2002, Ndrek Gjini moved to the West of Ireland. There he continued his education through English language. In 2004, he undertook a course that led to a National Certificate in Print Journalism; at GMIT in Galway, Ireland, he earned a BA Honours in Heritage Studies. At present, he is enrolled in the MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland in Galway.. Ndrek Gjini’s poems are those of a true poet. He can, as William Blake wrote, ‘see infinity in a grain of sand.’ Very brief moments of awareness lead to quick metaphysical insights. Through his poems, one becomes aware of the wisdom of the generations, as tales of his parents and grandparents resound through the decades. He is vitally aware, and makes the reader aware, of humans’ place in the world, amid the passing seasons, alongside great trees, by oceans filled with sentient fishes—one form of life amid many. The role of politics in the bloody history of the Balkans is sporadically manifest in the poems. One gets a strong sense that the poet is more humble than, but also bigger than, the heroes and the commissars; his insight is a necessary stay against terror. The poet is also a passage through which the divine makes itself known, and Ndrek Gjini is certainly a spiritual, even a religious poet—but never a doctrinaire one. Most of all, it is remarkable how far Ndrek Gjini has come in mastering the infinite complexities of a second language, so that his poems in English enrich the language culture of the non-Albanian world with some of the essentials of Albania.

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*Prof.Adrian Frazier
English Department
Director, MA in Writing Programme
National University of Ireland, Galway

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