FINALIST: 2016 PEN Center USA "POETRY IN TRANSLATION AWARD"
"This is a text that deserves (and demands) focused attention. It is a text all Ashbery-loving twentysomethings who think they’re doing something new must read and learn from."
— Jennifer Schomburg Kanke, World Literature Today [Read full review]
Zodiac is a book-length, bilingual sequence of poems loosely organized around the signs of the zodiac, which considers the turn of the millennium, the history of Albania and the Adriatic region, and the author’s place in the universe as he confronts his own mortality and his decision to remain in his homeland after the fall of communism.
Moikom Zeqo, born in Durrës, Albania, in 1949, is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and fiction, as well as numerous monographs on Albanian history, literature, and culture. His book Meduza (published in English as I Don’t Believe in Ghosts, BOA, 2007) was suppressed in Albania from 1975–1995 and only appeared in print after the Communist collapse. In the mid 1990s, Zeqo served briefly as Albania’s Minister of Culture, and for many years he directed the National Historical Museum in Tirana. An archeologist by training, Zeqo lives in Tirana and works as a writer and journalist.
Anastas Kapurani is the author of The Myth of Lasgush (Upfront [UK], 2004), a critical study of the Albanian poet Lasgush Poradeci. Kapurani lives in Athens, where he teaches for the London Institute City and Guilds program.
Wayne Miller is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The City, Our City (Milkweed, 2011) and Post-, which is forthcoming in 2016. He has coedited New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008), Tamura Ryuichi: On the Life & Work of a 20th Century Master (Unsung Masters, 2011) and Literary Publishing in the 21st Century (Milkweed, 2015), and translated Moikom Zeqo’s I Don’t Believe in Ghosts (BOA, 2007). He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, where he edits Copper Nickel.
Zodiac, by Moikom Zeqo
from Albanian by Anastas Kapurani and Wayne Miller Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-10-9 (paper)
5½ x 8
168 pages [Bilingual Albanian/English]
It is rare these days to find a poet who isn’t just interesting, or good at particular aspects of craft, or funny, or wild, but a poet who is truly large and complex, creating not just a human portrait, or a community or a reflection, but a whole cosmology; the way Comedia Divina was, first and foremost, a cosmology—like Rilke’s Duino Elegies or Eliot’s Four Quartets or, in our time, perhaps Ernesto Cardinal’s Canto Cosmico. And then—by a sheer stroke of luck—one comes across such a book as Zodiac and realizes there are still poets who aim for greatness. — Ilya Kaminsky
"This Zodiac is a crucial artifact for poetry, for transnational art, for mythology and language, and for perspective.... Zeqo, through Kapurani and Miller, presents us with an elegant jumble of human experience, a manic meditation of the person’s place in and out of time. He manages humor, poignancy, awkwardness, and growth. We are offered a clear chance to negotiate with Zeqo; this book, these poems remind us that poetry, like translation, is a form of negotiation." — Wesley Rothman, American Microreviews [read full review]
The poems in Moikom Zeqo’s Zodiac tumble down the page in ways that are at once intimate and prophetic, ecstatic and terrified. Always enormous-minded, Zeqo meditates here on the way human history—literary, political, social—exists simultaneously in our consciousness, alongside the certainty of our eventual submergence within it, our own mortality. “I destroy myself,” he asserts at one point, “with the longings of history”—but it is a beautiful, transcendent, and harrowing sort of destruction. This is a marvelous book, brought to life for readers of English by Wayne Miller’s and Anastas Kapurani’s muscular translations.