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Negative Space

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  11 reviews
*Shortlist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize*

“Language arrived fragmentary / split in syllables / spasmodic / like code in times of war,” writes Luljeta Lleshanaku in the title poem to her powerful new collection Negative Space. In these lines, personal biography disperses into the history of an entire generation that grew up under the oppressive dictatorship of t
Paperback, 112 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by New Directions (first published March 1st 2018)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This poet is from Albania, and some of the time, I felt the fact that I was reading translated poetry was overly evident, taking me out of the words. Subject matter wise, the poems are about places, people in relation to each other, memory, but very little politics except in vague references.

Most poems are short but some are longer in sections. I don't usually like longer poems but my favorite part of this collection, and to this poem I'd like to give 5 stars, is Homo Antarcticus, about the var
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it

Look what we have here:
some books bought with a little savings,
as if land purchased for a house
that you might never build. Plato, Hegel,
The Marxist Movement, heavy cloth covers. Sideways, behind Aristotle,
rests Art Nouveau,
like the head of a woman nodding off on the train, your shoulder still out of politeness.
Books in foreign languages, bought with the last
from shops you’ll never visit again:
Tarkovsky’s Techniques, exchanged for five food
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: albania, poetry
I'm not a great critic of poetry, but this didn't grab me or give me a sense of the author as much as I wanted it to. I found many lines quite beautiful, but overall I wasn't captured.
A collection of poetry from Luljeta Lleshanaku examining the space between objects and people, how things balance together and the different human emotions.

I’m not someone who knows a lot about poetry, but I found a lot of Lleshanaku’s poems beautiful yet bleak. There’s a loneliness to a lot of them, when someone is the subject matter of a poem they often can’t connect with others and there’s a distance between the subject and what they’re doing. Many of the poems aren’t tied to one specific pla

This combination of author and translator didn’t work for me. The poems were often observations of the everyday, of facts and people and work, but while this kind of attention can sparkle, here it met with platitudes and wore itself down.

Some pieces I enjoyed nonetheless, for the subject more than the dry prosaic style. There’s an occasional wry cleverness in the writing, a quiet love of country living and meditations on war that I did appreciate.

Isolated sections and lines were lovely:

'The sheets aren't wrinkled, the poetry didn't spend the night.' (Mandelstam, I believe, on poor translations). I was so looking forward to this but, ultimately, my first read has been something of a disappointment. I SUSPECT that the translation falls a little short - are any speakers/ readers of Albanian able to comment? I sense that Lleshanaku is the real thing but I'll need to re-read the collection(s) to learn why I think that. ...more
Neil Fulwood
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An English PEN Award winner, this substantial volume draws on Lleshanaku’s collections ‘Almost Yesterday’ and ‘Homo Antarcticus’, the long title poem of the latter proving a standout amidst a body of work that is never less than powerful and thought-provoking. ‘Water and Carbon’ achieves a similarly sustained effect. This is volume packs a real heft.
Moon Captain
I didn't read the whole thing. This poetry just wasn't for me and I feel silly saying that because poetry is for the poet themself but, ah, you know what I mean.

The copy I checked out from the library was signed. I've never seen that before.
Edgar Trevizo
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An astonishing collection. Elegant, smart, serious and deeply emotional without being sentimental at any time. Homo Antarcticus is a real masterpiece along with many others in the book. She's really, really good. ...more
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing writing, unfortunately average translation
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Nov 06, 2018 added it
Shelves: global-reading
These poems were filled with a lot of beautiful imagery, but sometimes it felt like there was something missing, some element of mystery. I admire the translator's skill and voice, but I do wonder what it would be like to read them in Albanian. I really enjoyed the longest poem in the book, "Homo Antarcticus," about explorer Frank Wild. I brought this book on a train trip, so poems like "Small-Town Stations" and "The Body's Delay" were especially poignant in that setting. ...more
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