The photographs you see here depict the people to whom my gratitude is immense – not to willingly exclude a large number of others on my actual list. These images actually show only two minuscule moments of utter joy and happiness that I have witnessed and experienced at the notable 2017 Kosovo International Poetry Festival. While counting solely as still pictures, these images are accompanied by a strong sense of accomplishment. Not because I was one of the invitees. No! It is rather due to a large number of fellow poets from across the globe who gathered their vocal support of dearest Fahredin Shehu in his incredible efforts to underline for our gravely troubled world the timeless significance and beauty of the art of poetry and its incomparable power to unite us all under the one race, one ethnicity, one social class, one religion that exists: humanity.
To William S. Peters Sr., the man dear to countless of people in numerous locations on Earth, I express my thanks publicly at last. Had it not been for who he is, I would have missed experiencing the festival’s home -the picturesque Rahovec of Kosovo, let alone live a mesmerizingly soul-fulfilling, inspiring and rewarding event of all times. Knowing that I was in the mindset of shying away from attending because I had not written a new book, he made sure to stand by me until I, in fact did. All along, he offered my inclination his utmost respect -without even once discouraging me from composing my Aflame. Memoirs in Verse, although such publication was not at all a requirement.
Besa Hoxa Beqiri, dear Besa, my companion in the different-awards-filled life of teaching, must have had a very easy (!) and pleasant (!) time under the piles of poetic translations she had to ready before the festival. She sounded so good while reading my poem submissions in the native language. The person who translates any literary work must be thanked to with full enthusiasm; for such intellectual and creative process requires an all-consuming attention and care. Hence, my attempt to show her my heartfelt appreciation through these few words.
Festivals come, festivals go. What remains are the first, ongoing and last impressions. This festival was memorable in every aspect, starting with the high sensitivity given to the invitees in the event’s preparatory stages. The fine detailing of the program, the arrival and transportation arrangements and communication to the travelers before their trip’s onset as far as what to first expect upon arrival had apparently been planned for a successful implementation of all the different elements of the event.
The people I have met and interacted with throughout this most notable celebration of poetry for humanity at large gifted me with delightful memories of friendship and encouragement for the remainder of my days.
Outside my fellow poets, also the uniquely friendly and most courteous supermen, the beautiful staff of the restaurant -our frequent hangout destination, have etched their place among my lifelong experiences I so do and will continue to brag about.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My sincerest thanks to all of you whose names I cannot possibly repeat here. And thank you, you fantasy-like world region Kosovo, for making me fall in love with Rahovec, Prizren, Gjakova and other spectacular places you have offered me in this magical year of 2017 thanks to the vision of a wonderful soul called Fahredin Shehu.
Photo Credits: Fahredin Shehu (the first two), self (the Prizren pictures). As for the beautiful group pictures, wonderful fellow poets shared them on Facebook. My apologies! I have not saved my downloads by your names.