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Bitter Grass by Gëzim Hajdari, trans. by Ian Seed

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"Bitter Grass was written in 1976 while I was in my last year of high school in the city of Lushnjë in Albania. It was refused by N. Frashëri, the government publication house in Tirana. According to the censor, ‘the texts in this collection do not deal with the theme of our socialist village; the hero of the poems is a solitary person who flees from his contemporaries, from the Youth Association, from reality; moreover, the transformations that socialism has brought to the countryside under the guidance of the Party are entirely absent…’ At that time, the collection had the title The Forest Diary. I translated the texts from Albanian into Italian in 1999. Two years later, in 2001, the work was published for the first time in Italy. This new publication has been expanded and includes new texts in respect to the first edition.

Offering these poems to readers, it’s as if I were going back many years to the icy and inhospitable winter of the Albanian dictatorship where I began my journey as a poet." —Gëzim Hajdari

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