Saturday 23 September 2023

Book Review: Teach Me How to Whisper by Gjekë Marinaj (Poetry)

Title: Teach Me How to Whisper
Author: Gjekë Marinaj
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
Publication Date: 13 October 2023
Pages: 288
Format: eBook PDF
Genre: Poetry
Source: ARC via Edelweiss

The works of Gjekë Marinaj, Albania’s leading poet, have been praised, translated, published, and discussed in over twenty languages and countries. His most celebrated poem, “Horses,” drew the attention of the dictatorship’s censors when it was published and forced Marinaj to escape his country pursued by armed men. Later, the poem became the anthem for the democratic forces that freed the country. He has won several of the world’s most prestigious prizes for his poetry and criticism, but his remarkable body of passionate, profound, and wildly original poetry is only now translated and published in English for the first time. Frederick Turner, a prizewinning Anglo-American poet, critic, and translator, has translated this generous collection of Marinaj’s major poems into English with the close collaboration of the poet himself. Gathered into nine sections—Home, Albania, Amor, Admonitions, Acheron, Heroines, Metaphysics, Poets, and The Earth—the volume concludes with an extraordinary long poem, “The Lost Layers of Vyasa’s Skin.” With his fascinating introductory essay, Turner contextualizes Marinaj’s work, describing the ways in which Albanian history, culture, and politics have energized Marinaj’s poetry and its poetics.


I should say up front that I am not a big poetry reader on the whole. I was drawn to this book mainly due to the author, as I am completing a challenge to read something by an author born in every country in the world and I had not yet crossed Albania off the list. However, once I started reading, I found it to be an interesting collection of verses. As with any book of this sort, there were some poems I liked more than others, but overall it was a thoughtful and thought-provoking selection that combined pieces with an element of social commentary with others that had a more personal feel. I would recommend the book to fans of contemporary poetry. I am giving it 4 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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