Rozafa’s Milk

Diane Durant

Rozafa’s Milk
A poetry anthology

ISBN-13: 978-0-939378-16-6

Edited and with an introduction by Diane Durant


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The legend of Rozafa lays the foundation for this new anthology of poems from members of The Society of Albanian–American Writers. Edited and with an introduction by Texas native Diane Durant, this thoughtful collection addresses such universal themes as love, sacrifice, determination, hope, and triumph. Appearing for the first time in English, the words within these pages create vivid and compelling poetic pictures for new eyes.


Teuta Osmani
Adnan Mehmeti
Yllka Filipi
Raimonda Moisiu
Merita McCormack
Kostaq Duka
Luigj Kola Cekaj
Idriz Çelaj
Mehill Velaj
Keze Kozeta Zylo
Gjekë Marinaj
Veneta Çallpani
Elko Qeparoi
Dalan Luzaj
Iliriana Sulkuqi
Fation Pajo
Rozi Theohari
Petraq Risto
Albana Melyshi Lifschin

The Anthology

The poets represented in this collection are all members of The Society of Albanian-American Writers, which was founded in 2001, just up the road from the University of Texas at Dallas where I would meet Gjekë Marinaj a few years later. Both pursuing graduate degrees, he was a poet and translator, and I was the incoming editor of the university’s literary journal, Sojourn. Some twelve years later, he approached me about a prospective project, and Rozafa’s Milk was born.

Given loose translations of the poems in English, I endeavored to do three things as an editor: prioritize the poet’s narrative intent; maintain the overall form, line breaks, and rhythm of the original as closely as possible; and ultimately compile a series of poems that moves an English-speaking audience just as passionately as it surely does an Albanian one—just as passionately as it moved me. Throughout the selection process, universal themes emerged, themes that undoubtedly transcend oceans. As a native Texan, I jumped at the chance to celebrate snow and swallows; as a writer myself, to mourn lost love and death in the beautifully brutal and delicate way that only poetry can.

But coming of age in the 90s, I admittedly had a singular understanding of Albania—a limited, albeit Western, view of the region and certainly the war in Kosovo which shaped so much of Albania’s recent history. In order to connect with a deeper, intrinsic meaning in the works and edit each poem with the aesthetic grace it deserved, I needed a greater appreciation for the role of both cultural history and mythology; I needed wider eyes to see the struggle, hardship, joy, and hope—for each poet’s sincere experiences as Albanian-Americans—that invariably flowers from each verse. As I researched the various tellings of the Rozafa legend and other immurement narratives from the Balkan region, I recognized a
journey mired with sadness and sacrifice overcome by love and determination reminiscent of Albania’s own epic history, and thus Rozafa became the inspiration, and her metaphorical milk the essence, of this anthology.

It is my hope that Rozafa’s Milk not only contributes to our understanding of the poetic experience, but that this small collection of poems also opens our collective minds to a greater human experience by amplifying both the words and the lives of these nineteen poets into a voice we can all hear, if we just listen.

Diane Durant, PhD