Albanian speakers first learned of haiku in the 1960s from English and French translations, Japanese haiku were translated into Albanian beginning in the 1970s, and substantial collections of translations of Japanese poetry and haiku appeared in 1982 and 1984 respectively. The first book of original haiku in Albanian appeared in 1999, and two years later the KlubHaiku Shqiptar (Albanian Haiku Club) was founded in the city of Elbasan.
Albanian is the official language of Albania and Kosovo, and there are substantial ethnic Albanian minorities in North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece as well as a large diaspora throughout Europe and in North America. This article covers haiku activities by ethnic Albanians in all these areas.
Albanians first became aware of Japanese haiku in the 1960s through translations in English and French. Poet and professor Shykri Nimani recalls that,
then a student at the Academy of Arts, I was sitting in the American Cultural and Information Center and reading Life magazine, where I found some classical Japanese haiku translated into English by H. G. Henderson. Much impressed, I started translating haiku into Albanian, and some of my translations were subsequently published in the Albanian magazine Zëri i Rinisë (The Voice of Youth).
In 1970 Nimani gathered his translations and issued a fine-press book, Japanese Haiku. He then spent two years in Japan studying haiku and ukiyo painting and printmaking. Upon his return to Priština, Kosovo (then in Yugoslavia), he edited and annotated Haiku: poezi japoneze (Haiku: Japanese Poetry; 1984) in Japanese and Albanian—a first in Albanian haiku. The book was based on Daniel C. Buchanan’s One Hundred Famous Haiku (1973). Antologji e poezisë japoneze (Anthology of Japanese Poetry), a more substantial collection compiled by the noted translator Petraq Kolevica, was published in Tiranë in 1982.
Individual poets began reading and writing their own haiku in the 1970s. The first book of original haiku in Albanian is thought to be Tercinat e pasvdekjes së Dantes japonez (Terza Rima after the Death of a Japanese Dante; 1999) by Moikom Zeqo, a prominent academic, historian, and later minister of culture, youth and sports. Journalist and publisher Milianov Kallupi came out with Krizantemat e bukurisë (The Rain Chrysanthemums), his first haiku book, in 2000 and went on to publish dozens of poetry books and 20 collections of haiku.
Kallupi was also the founder (2001) and president of the KlubHaiku Shqiptar (Albanian Haiku Club) in his hometown of Elbasan, southeast of Tiranë, and edited the club’s occasional publication Haiku. Kallupi was active in establishing ties between his club and the World Haiku Association in Japan and national haiku organizations in Europe and North America. After Kallupi’s death in 2013, Kujtim Agalliu assumed the presidency of the Albanian Haiku Club.
Ten haiku by Agim Vinca, a professor of Albanian literature at the University of Priština, Kosovo, were published on the World Haiku Association website in 2001. This was one of that set:
Zogjtë Të vetmit udhëtarë që i kalojnë kufijtë pa pasaportë.
Birds The only passengers passing the border without passports.1
Among his many literary achievements, Dritëro Agolli, a writer of prose, plays, and essays and poetry, also has written haiku. A sampling of his haiku that was also published on the World Haiku Association website in 2001 included this one:
Hëna e ftohtë në pellg,
Korbi çlodhet në shelg
buzën e gjelbër të lumit
cool moon in the pond, raven resting on a willow on the green river bank1
Iliriana Sulkuqi is another well-known Albanian poet and editor, a native of Elbasan, who has written haiku. She now lives in New York. This haiku of Sulkuqi was published in the Irish online journal Shamrock in 2011 in a translation by editor Anatoly Kudryavitsky (the Albanian original was not included):
letter remains unopened
since the first chilly day
In 2013 Stavri S. Çipi published a book of his haiku titled Harpe qiellore / Heavenly Haiku in Albanian with translations by Kujtim Agalliu, one of the most active poets in the country. Here is one example from the book:
që nuk fle—
Zemra ime e trazuar.
that never sleeps—
My troubled heart.
Arjan Kallço is a teacher, poet, and translator who is active not only in Albania but also in Italy and Greece. Several of his books of poetry, including haiku, have been translated into Italian and Greek. Here is a haiku of his from the sequence “Haiku dimërosh: Serenatat e mbrëmjes: himne Krishtlindjesh” (Haiku Winter: Evening Serenades: Christmas Anthems):
Shpirti gri i liqenit
me dimrin e ri.
Quiet season The gray spirit of the lake with the new winter.2.
Besides those, the most prominent Albanian-language haiku poets are Dashamir Cacaj, Konstantin Dham, Mihal Disho, Nexip Ejuppi, Shuap Garuci, Nasho Jorgaqi, Ahmet Mehmeti, Betim Muço, Anton Papleka, Ferit Rama, Petraq Risto, Qazim Shemaj, and Agim Vinca.
AUTHOR: Charles Trumbull
SOURCES / FURTHER READING (PRINT)
- Agalliu, Kujtim. Hëna e vjeshtës / The Autumn Moon. Tiranë: Shtëpia Botuese Jonalda, 2017.
- Agalliu, Kujtim. “A short introduction for the beginning and evolution of Haiku in Albania.” Translated from Romanian by Veronica Vasile. Albatros / Albatross 5 (2005), 124–25.
- Buchanan, Daniel C. One Hundred Famous Haiku. San Francisco and Tokyo: Japan Publications, Inc., 1973.
- Çipi, Stavri S. Harpë qiellore: Haiku / Celestial Harp: Haiku. English translations by Kujtim Agalliu. Tiranë: Printing House ILAR for the Albanian Haiku Society, 2013. The full text of the book—150 haiku—is available online on the Stavri S. Çipi website: http://s-t-a-v-r-i-c-i-i-p-1-9-5-6.simplesite.com.
- Cullhaj, Renalda Q. Jam me ty: haiku dhe fotografi (I’m with You: Haiku and Photography). Published privately (CreateSpace), 2014.
- Henderson, Harold G. An Introduction to Haiku: An Anthology of Poems and Poets From Bashō to Shiki. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1958.
- Kallço, Arian. Il bacio del silenzio: haiku. Italian translations by Giuseppe Napolitano. Published privately (CreateSpace), 2018.
- Kallço, Arian. La danza delle foglie: haiku (The Dance of the Leaves: Haiku). Italian translations by Giuseppe Napolitano. Published privately (CreateSpace), 2018. In Italian.
- Kallço, Arian. Rreze aureolash: haiku (Halo Beam: Haiku). Published privately (CreateSpace), 2014.
- Kallço, Arian. Tallazet e shpirtit: 120 haiku (A Tale of the Soul: 120 Haiku). Published privately (CreateSpace), 2017.
- Kallço, Arian. Vargjet kanë mall: haiku (The Verses Have a Craving: Haiku). Published privately (CreateSpace), 2016.
- Kallupi, Milianov. Krizantemat e bukurisë (The Rain Chrysanthemums). 2000.
- Kolevica, Petraq. Antologji e poezisë japoneze (Anthology of Japanese Poetry). Tiranë: Dudaj, 2001.
- Muço, Betim. Hiroshima jashtë meje: Haiku: Poezi (Hiroshima Outside Me: Haiku: Poetry). Edited by Agim Isaku. Elbasan, Albania: Onufri, 1996.
- Nimani, Shyqyri. “Rrugëtimi i haikut japonez deri te muzat shqiptare” (The Japanese Haiku’s Voyage to the Albanian Muses). Introduction to Xhemil Bytyçi, 777 Haiku: Shtigjeve të shpirtit (777 Haiku: The Path of the Soul). Published privately (Lulu.com), 2015.
- Nimani, Shyqyri, trans. Haiku: poezi japoneze (Haiku: Japanese Poetry). Priština, Yugoslavia: Rilindja, 1984.
- Shqiponja, Lejdi. Kërcimi i zambakëve: haiku (Dance of Lilies: Haiku). Edited by Milianov Kallupi. English translations by Kujtim Agalliu. Tiranë and Elbasan, Albania: Egnatia, 2007.
- Zeqo, Moikom. Tercinat e pasvdekjes së Dantes japonez (Terza Rima after the Death of a Japanese Dante). 1999
SOURCES / FURTHER READING (ONLINE)
- Agalliu, Kujtim. “A short introduction for the beginning and evolution of Haiku in Albania.” Haiku in Albania: アルバニアの俳句, Akita International Haiku Network: https://akitahaiku.com/2018/04/07/haiku-in-albania-アルバニアの俳句（１）/; posted July 4, 2007.
- Agolli, Dritëro. “Dritëro Agolli.” Kathleen P. Decker, editor; Avni Spahiu, translator. World Haiku Association website (2001). http://www.worldhaiku.net/poetry/si/a.vinca.htm. Short biographical sketch and 3 haiku in Albanian and English.
- Basha, Eqrem. “Eqrem Basha.” Kathleen P. Decker, editor; Avni Spahiu, translator. World Haiku Association website (2001). http://www.worldhaiku.net/poetry/si/a.vinca.htm. Short biographical sketch and 3 haiku in Albanian and English.
- Kallço, Arjan. “Haiku dimërosh: Serenatat e mbrëmjes: himne Krishtlindjesh” (Winter Haiku: Evening Serenades: Christmas Anthems). Klosi News: https://www.klosi.com/klosi_news_literature/10349.html; posted December 24, 2019.
- Nimani, Shyqyri. “The History of Haiku in Albania” and “Focus on Albania.” Shamrock 18 (2011): http://shamrockhaiku.webs.com/shamrockno18.htm.
- Nimani, Shyqri. “Shyqri Nimani .” Kathleen P. Decker, editor; Avni Spahiu, translator. World Haiku Association website (2001). http://www.worldhaiku.net/poetry/si/a.vinca.htm. Short biographical sketch and 3 haiku in Albanian and English.
- Shamrock; Haiku Journal of the Irish Haiku Society. Anatoly Kudryavitsky, editor. Dublin, Ireland: 2007– .
- Vinca, Agim. “Agim Vinca.” Kathleen P. Decker, editor; Avni Spahiu, translator.World Haiku Association website: http://www.worldhaiku.net/poetry/si/a.vinca.htm; posted 2001. Short biographical sketch and 10 haiku in Albanian and English.
- Translated by Avni Spahiu.
- Translated by Charles Trumbull.