Avni Azizi: his life and writing
Avni Azizi was born on September 6, 1970 in the village of Terpeze in Viti, a city in Albania. He enrolled in the local elementary school and later went to study at the main high school of Viti. He later studied geography and literature at the University of Prishtina. He became a writer at an early age, and is an avid writer of poetry, prose and critical essays. For a long time, he was active in journalism and as an editorialist in many European magazines and newspapers. He was the editor of the Cultural Section in the “24 Hours” daily newspaper (“24 Orë”) and later promoted to Editor in Chief of “Çlirimi” (Liberation) magazine and has widely published scholarly studies, articles and editorials focusing on European literature and philosophy.
In 1995, Avni published his first volume of poetry entitled “Broken Smiles” (“Buzeqeshjet e Thyera”) and has in manuscript the following works: “While looking at the fatherland’s map,” Poetry, “Cultural Detachment” Comments and Analysis on Arts and Culture, “Koderrahu” Albanian novel,” Metaphors of Freedom,” a volume of literary criticism and “Flakadani i Karadakut,” a monograph dedicated to Kosovo’s national hero, Njazi Azeri. In 1990, Azizi began his deep involvement in defense of the national cause in Kosovo and joined the people’s movement of the Republic of Kosovo (LPRK). On March 11, 1991, with his classmates, Avni Zejnullahu and Nexhmedin Hajdini, he founded a political group that would contribute towards winning national freedom for Kosovo. Their main activity was focused on spreading materials of political struggle, distribution of illegal literature, and inspiration of young generations to fight for freedom and against Serbian occupation forces in Kosovo.
In March 11, 1992, in his home village of Terpese, Azizi established and led the literary group of “Jusuf Gërvalla Association” in which he gathered many young people who would contribute to the public meetings and rallies on the occasion of important national anniversaries.
At the beginning of 1993, Avni was a member of the local “Courier” magazine where, with Merxhan Avdyli, Daut Xhemajli, Emrush Azemi, Axhim Hajrizi, Remzi Salihu and many others, he fought to end the darkness caused from the lack of information initiatives led by Serbian occupation forces and their regime in Belgrade.
With the creation of the Kosovo Liberation Movement (KLA) in 1993, Avni joined its ranks. After the massive arrests and persecution committed by Serbian invading forces against KLA members, he was pursued by Serbian forces, and the movement went underground.
In November 1993, Azizi joined with Sali Lajçi, Gani Lipaj, Selim Lulaj and Hyrë Jemini (who are now National Heroes),and they mobilised students and professors at the University of Prishtina in order to organise protests against the arrest of their fellow KLA colleagues at the Institute of Albanian Studies in Prishtina.
In December 1996, Azizi and Bedri Halimi and many other friends organized a petition signed by students of the University of Prishtina. They presented this petition to Kosovo’s President Ibrahim Rugova to pressure the Serbian authorities and take over educational institutions that were controlled for decades by Belgrade.
In 1996, Azizi collaborated with fellow activists, Bajram Kosumi, Merchan Avdyli, Myrvete Dreshaj, Avdullah Konushevci, Nysret Pllana and many other friends, to establish the Fund for Literature, Art and Culture “Generation of 1981”.
During the early morning hours of December, 1997, Azizi’s residence in the Pejton neighborhood in Prishtina, where he was hiding for days, was surrounded by Serbian police. Escaping from this encirclement by Serbian police, Azizi disappeared but continued to stay involved with the national liberation cause, operating from undisclosed locations in the mountains until the beginning of the war.
Immediately after the establishment of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Avni became a Public affairs Officer in the 173rd “Gursel and Bajram Sylejmani” Brigade. He was also highly involved in the political life of Kosovo, where from 2002 to 2004 he was a member of the council of National Movement for Kosovo’s Liberation. He is married, and has three children.
Here follows an essay by Ismail Syla and Merxhan Avdyli on the literary works by Avni Azizi:
"Buzëqeshjet e thyera" (Broken Smiles), Avni Azizi. Prishtina
Sabri Hamiti, a Literary Scholar and academician is the author of a discourse entitled “Essay on the first book” in which is certified the anticipation of three poets that appear with books of high levels of style since the beginning of their appearance in public, and further publications certify the previous assertions of their literary skills.
Among the young writers who are currently active writers, the name of Avni Azizi brings high hopes to all of us who are eager to see him appear in the future with books of a high level and well balanced in many aspects. Above all, his lyrics are present in the “Broken Smiles” volume, in addition to many other articles published in renowned magazines.
The first volume of Avni Azizi contains poetry realized at a very admirable level, not only on the plane of sustained ideas, but also in the lyrical atmosphere that attracts you to spontaneity and the elaborate substance of lyrical discourse. These planes of poetical lyrics are found to be in almost every poem of this juncture, which demonstrate the high talent of Avni Azizi in order to create genuine artistic values.
The volume of poetry entitled, “Broken Smiles”, is divided into four separate units of poetry. Every assembly of poetry, separated from a whole picture, has its sole distinct characteristics, which together encompass the substance of the whole volume, which make this poetical masterpiece, an extremely interesting volume full of interesting content.
The first cycle has the cluster of poems entitled “Unraveled Hope”. In the poetry of this cycle is noted a general tendency of the author’s intimacy such as the one of unraveling hopes. We have here the confrontation of various items in which the individual hope, sole passage, even if it is pain, brought into poetry, emerges perfectly as an artistic master piece. The first poetry entitled “The Gates of Poetry” is one of the best poems, which expresses the intimate desire of the author to become a poet, particularly expresses his struggle to create warm relations with poetry itself, in order to reach the writer’s willingness to exchange with poetry a phoenix or even an Atlantis, for a rose or a cardinalidae.
A similar approach the author pursues with the muse of poetry and music, emerges from it, and later observes for a silhouette to cover its body of lyrics, a desire that is confirmed in the poem “Evterp and myself’ at this cycle of poems we encounter the desire of Azizi to be a tireless voyager, towards the sea (“My Sea”).
Solitude, longing, pain are also notions, not only philosophical, neither poetical, which complement the expressed thoughts of the artist and give more importance to poetical individualism of Avni Azizi as a writer.
The second cycle of poems is entitled “the View of vivid nature” encompasses within poetry a more evident shape. Lyrics in this cycle are developed on the foundation of natural figures, whether they are real or abstract shapes, while giving a soul to different items and also to many natural phenomena, and establish a certain shape for all of them. Poems of this cycle are vividly presented in the poems of “Lively Nature,” “Enlightened night,” “Bridge” and a few other titles.
“While waiting smiles” is entitled the third cycle of poems, where the poetical objective is focused in our societal, political and national presence. In these poems emerges the author’s worry for the nation’s fate in which “the Suns overthrow and waves have thunders,” for the fate of Kosovo, which “as long as we mention her, our bread is stuck in our throat,” for the soil “from the bloody hand cuffs” to arrive up to the poetical devotion, all these are found within the poetical sphere of the author, as well as towards the prisoner, martyr, freedom fighter.
It is interesting to see the devotion of Azizi is not something undefined; they are mostly very clear with visible substance and content.
The fourth and last cycle of poems is “The Growth of Wild Grass” in which we experience a much more enforced poetics, through irony, even sarcasm of different appearances, of different actions, and bad human habits. Here we have a relevance of the many faces of deception, or a moral with double standard, which attempt to reach their objectives with negative reflections. All these elements are trumpeted by the author in the poems “Winds,” “Awaiting of lies,” “Nostradamus” “Missionary,” “Vizitor,” “New Veil,” and other poems in which the wealth of expressed thoughts is always present apart from a figurative wealth.
This is why there is no doubt that we can affirm on AvniAzizi’s poetry, which is a poetical creation in which is found a balanced thought of exposed poetical values, within the context of what is expressed and meant, it truly maintains its entirety, it is not lacking substance, furthermore it is equipped with its layers of context and with the word’s power; Azizi’s verses bring forward wholeheartedly the lyrics that can be experienced by everyone.
Azizi’s poetical connection in “Broken Smiles” together with a very easy read, take the reader towards the genuine meaning of poetry, written by a poet who appears to be victorious even though this is his first volume of poetry. He is victorious thanks to his tremendous efforts who make his writing embody a rare passion that is seldom found among other writers.
It is impossible for the reader to absorb Azizi’s poetry without living it, because in his verses many things are visible and transparent, it is a poetry very rich with figurative elements and spotless clean within the linguistic context, it is a poetry that is created to be read and remain forever in the favorite books’ stand.
While reading and feeling the lyrics of this volume, we are confident that Avni Azizi will demonstrate high value in the near future.
Spero News columnist Peter M. Tase has translated poetry from Albanian to English, besides writing analyses on international business and diplomatic affairs.