Olimbi VELAJ (1971) was born in Mallakastra, Albania. She studied in Tirana and Sofia. Velaj is author of the lyric volumes Çastet vdesin nën akrepa orësh (Moments perish under the hands of clocks), Tirana, 1998; and Qenia pasdite (Afternoon existence), bilingual volume (Albanian-English, Tirana, 2003. Her poetry is published in 15 languages, in Balkan countries, in Europe and Azia in some of literature magazines and anthology. She has been in a number of poetry festivals and she has nominations and awards for her poetry. Velaj translates into Albanian contemporary poets.
Velaj works as a lecturer in Albanian Literature of XX century, Creative Writing and World Literature of the Nineteenth Century; she is Head of Literature Department, Faculty of Education “Aleksandër Moisiu” University, Durrës, Albania. Currently she is teaching Albanian Language, Literature and Culture in University of Belgrade, Department of Albanology.
Velaj worked as a journalist in cultural issues from 1993 till 2008 and she was one of representative journalist during transition, after communist regime in Albania. As a journalist she has published widely in cultural heritage and folklore. During 1997-1998 she had a research fellowship in Sofia University, focused on comparative studies on Ballads of the Balkans. Her PhD topic (2012) was “The Albanian ballad in the inter-Balkan context”. Her research interests are in areas of oral based literature and poetry, ballad theory and folk songs.
By Olimbi VELAJ
You too remember
Those old times
With naïve calls and postcards
Summer, like an apocalypse, had flown away
Over our bodies and dreams
Waiting, overwhelmed with anxiety
As embassies creaked under screams
I cannot forget your conviction
And the pure light
Under that sky of departure hours.
Then rains came back
Our longing grew distant
And anxiety kept fading
Like an ice cube with melted corners
Senses experienced other moods
And impressions became vague
Like thirst going out of attention
Now I remember you quite accidentally,
Unconsciously, as if you were a participant
In a ritual anniversary where reason cannot work.
English translation by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj.