13th Edition of the International Poetry Festival “DITËT E NAIMIT”
TETOVA – CENTRE OF WORLD POETRY
For three days, Tetova was the center of different architects of literature, visual art, music, of a review of Albanian ethnography, of book presentations, visits of cultural monuments of the town etc. From October 15th to 18th, it was the venue of the 13th Edition of the International Poetry Festival “DITËT E NAIMIT”. About 40 poets from different countries of the world participated: from the USA, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Izrael, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria etc. as well as Albanian poets from Kosova, Albania and Macedonia.
The opening ceremony of the Festival began on Thursday, October 15th, in front of the Cultural Centre “Naim Frashëri” with a beautiful choreography of fireworks, which covered for some time the sky of Tetova, with the placement of wreaths of flowers by the laureate of the Festival, Lionel Ray, the director of the Festival, Shaip Emërllahu, and the well-known Albanian poet Besnik Mustafaj, as well as a parade of Albanian national costumes by the members of the Cultural-Artistic Society “Burimet e Sharrit”, who were holding torches on flame in their hands.
In the foyer of the Cultural Centre “Naim Frashëri”, the exhibition of paintings “Pelican” was opened, displaying works of painters from the Balkans, supported by “Andore”. The well-known painter Savash Veliu and Julia Janku spoke about the pictures of the painters from Greece, Romania, Albania, Kosova and Macedonia. After this, in the Great Hall, the 13th Edition of the International Poetry Festival “Ditët e Naimit” was opened by the director of the Festival, Shaip Emërllahu, who said among other things:
“All who have followed the development of this Festival have seen our incessant persistence to turn Tetova into a centre of world poetry. Honestly I am more and more convinced that this idea is increasingly manifested. Not only the accidents of history, our local tradition of poetic writing and our love for this art form sustain this opinion, just a look ahead reveals values of increasing importance inherent in this way of communication. For this celebration to be endowed with the blessing of the Sun, we have enriched this event on the way with other arts, like the visual and the musical one, too, with international character.
‘Poetry is our intellectual religion, our way of living’, says our laureate Lionel Ray in an interview. Thus, on the quest of an enrichment of this way of life, it was given other profiles… one of them being also encounters of this kind, like the International Poetry Festival DITËT E NAIMIT, where the need to go out of oneself and towards one another, the unknown brother, is huge…”
After that, the writer Besnik Mustafaj gave an opening speech, emphasizing that this festival honoured the Albanian literature and Tetova itself. Then he congratulated the director of the Festival, who has been uniting now for 13 years poets of the whole world in Tetova, affirming the Albanian culture and building bridges of cooperation with numerous literatures and poets from different countries of the world.
During the great literary hour “Poetic Globe”, the following poets read their literary creations: Jørgen SONNE (DENMARK), Robert Murray DAVIS (USA), Jean-Luc WAUTHIER (BELGIUM), Besnik MUSTAFAJ (ALBANIA), Lionel RAY (FRANCE), Amir OR (ISRAEL), Anton BAEV (BULGARIA), Vesna PRESNJAK (CROATIA), Silke Liria BLUMBACH (GERMANY), Laure CAMBAU (FRANCE), Mirza ČARDAKLIJA (BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA), Slavco KOVLOVSKI (MACEDONIA), Jeton KELMENDI (KOSOVA), Sabri KUSKONMAZ (TURKEY), Giuseppe NAPOLITANO (ITALY), Valerio ORLIC (CROATIA), Agron TUFA and Azem QAZIMI (ALBANIA), Jim WARNER (USA), Tatiana YTOVA (BULGARIA), Hristo PETRESKI, Ekrem AJRULI and Lulëzim HAZIRI (MACEDONIA).
During this literary hour, the chairman of the Jury, Dr. Agron Tufa, read the motivation for the awarding of the main prize for high artistic values, whereas the director of the Festival, Shaip Emërllahu, handed the “Oscar” statue of the literary award “Naim Frashëri” and assigned the title of an Honorary Member of the Festival to the well-known French poet and Academy member Lionel Ray.
On the second day of the Festival, the laureate Lionel Ray was presented in the Great Auditorium of the Rectorate of the State University of Tetovo in front of a numerous audience of students and lecturers. In his congratulating speech, the rector of this university, Doc. Dr. Agron Reka, pointed out: “Our university, besides its activities in the spheres of education and science, has always expressed its willingness to mark also important cultural, artistic and literary events, like today’s presentation of the laureate of the literary award ‘Naim Frashëri’, Mr. Lionel Ray. On this occasion, we congratulate the Jury of the 13th Edition of the Festival ‘Ditët e Naimit’ for having given this year’s literary prize ‘Naim Frashëri’ to the great French poet Lionel Ray. This prize honours the laureate, French literature and encourages general creative action, especially among the young generations of creators. For this reason, the leadership of our university supports such cultural events, which unite different cultures, approach them to one another through bridges of communication and enable different peoples of the world to create new friendships.” The rector Agron Reka also expressed his thanks to the Direction of the International Poetry Festival “Ditët e Naimit” for the wish to organize such an activity in the premises of the State University of Tetova. “I hope that this tradition of cooperation will continue in the future, too. I wish you to further pursue successfully your mission as ambassadors of culture and intellectual activity. In the name of the managerial staff, the professors and the students of the State University of Tetova, I congratulate the laureate of this year of the literary award ‘Naim Frashëri’, Lionel RAY, for receiving this literary prize, and I wish him further successes in his work”, emphasized the rector Agron Reka.
The French poet and Academy member Lionel Ray, this year’s winner of the “Naim Frashëri” prize, commented: “First I would like to tell you that I am very impressed by the warm reception I was given in Macedonia, especially by the Albanian community. I am very happy about this award, because I have a great admiration for the Albanian writer Ismail Kadare. I know Kadare well, we meet from time to time and it is a great pleasure for me to read his opus”, declared the writer Lionel Ray.
Finally the rector of the State University of Tetova, Agron Reka, presented this great figure of French literature, Lionel Ray, with an engraving with the emblem of Tetova University.
Thereafter the chairman of the Jury, Dr. Agron Tufa, developed a dialogue with the winner of the “Naim Frashëri” award, Lionel Ray, who subsequently read from his verses.
At the State University of Tetova, the laureate and all poets participating in this festival were warmly received by the students, professors and the directing staff of the University.
According to the programme of the Festival, in one of the halls of the South East Europe University, the literary hour “Poets and Verses” was held. There, after the participants were greeted by the dean of the Faculty for Languages and Cultures, Prof. Dr. Vehbi Bexheti, the poets from different countries read their creations and visited the library of this university named after Max van der Stuhl.
In the afternoon, the poets visited the tekke “Arabati Baba”, where the leader of the Bektashi community in Macedonia, Baba Edmond Brahimaj, told them about the history of this tekke and about Bektashism itself.
On the third day, in the morning hours in the American Corner in Tetova, the books of the publishing edition of the Festival were presented, the poetic volume in English “Life’s Rags” by the author Shaip Emërllahu and the poetic diary of the Italian poet Giuseppe Napolitano with the title “Ditët e Naimit”. These two works were introduced by the literature scholar and American poet Robert Murray Davis, the literary critic and poet Agron Tufa etc.
During the great literary hour “Poetic Meridians”, poems were read and the literary prizes of the Festival were awarded. The poet Jean-Luc Wauthier from Belgium was declared the winner of the literary prize “Menada”, the poet Besnik Mustafaj was awarded the literary prize “Oeneumi”, whereas the poet Hristo Petreski from Macedonia was given the prize “Naim’s Candle”.
During this edition, besides the laureate Lionel Ray, the title of Honourary Members of the Festival was accorded also to the American poet Robert Murray Davis and the Albanian poet Besnik Mustafaj.
Also this year, the Festival published the anthology of the participating poets, prepared by Shaip Emërllahu and translated into Albanian by the poet Silke Liria Blumbach with the title “In the Mouth of Birth”.
The opening and the closing of the 13th Edition of the International Poetry Festival “Ditët e Naimit” was broadcasted live on national television.
The impressive stage decoration was designed by the painter Savash Veliu.
The Festival was supported by the Ministry of Culture and the Municipalities of Zhelina, Tearca, Gostivar and Bogovinja.
Sponsors of the Festival were the companies “Vezë Sharri”, “Emka Petrol”, “T-mobile”, “Hit Oil”, “Euro Lesnina”, “Delfin”, “Emporium” and “Les Komerc”. The Festival was also helped by the travel agencies “Euro Turist” and “Bashkimi Tours” from Tetova, the Cultural Centre, the French Alliance and the American Corner.