2019 International Shortlist – Ani Gjika, translated from the Albanian written by Luljeta Lleshanaku


Ani Gjika is an Albanian-born poet, literary translator and writer. Her book Bread on Running Waters (2013) was a finalist for the 2011 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and the 2011 May Sarton New Hampshire Book Prize. Gjika moved to the US when she was 18, earning an MA in English at Simmons College, and an MFA in poetry at Boston University. Her honours include awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship, English PEN Translates, Framingham State University’s Miriam Levine Award, and the Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize.

Luljeta Lleshanaku was born in Elbasan, Albania. She is the author of seven books of poetry in Albanian. Book length translations of her work into other languages include Antipastoral (Italy, 2006), Kinder der natur (Austria, 2010), Dzieci natury (Poland, 2011), and Lunes en Siete Dias (Spain, 2017). She has won several prestigious awards for her poetry, including PEN Albania 2016, and the International Kristal Vilenica Prize in 2009. In 2012 she was one of two finalists in Poland for their European Poet of Freedom Prize.

View the full Ani Gjika / Luljeta Lleshanaku page.

Judges Citation

“With a lesser known original language, the more precious the gift of translation! Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Negative Space offers a rare glimpse into contemporary Albanian poetry. Effortlessly and with crisp precision, Ani Gjika, herself a poet, has rendered into English, not only the poems in Negative Space, but also the eerie ambience which resonates throughout the book, the deep sense of impermanence that is one of the many consequences of growing up under severe political oppression. ‘Negative space is always fertile.’ Opening trauma’s door, we’re met by a tender and intelligent voice with stories illuminating existence in a shared humanity, thus restoring dignity. In a world fractured by terror and violence, Lleshanaku’s poetry is infinitely exciting, soothing us, its citizens.”

More about Ani Gjika and Luljeta Lleshanaku