Promotion of Albanian and Norwegian poetry in Geneva: Welcome to the 20th Ex Tempore soirée!

Posted by: Blerim Mustafa on January 23, 2016 (Arbanon Blog)

After arriving in Geneva in 2010, I felt there was a need to reconnect with my country of birth, Norway, and Albanian roots.

I remember being invited to the 18th Ex Tempore soirée hosted by the United Nations (UN) Society of Writers at the home of Dr. Alfred de Zayas, Professor of International Law, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, and the current editor-in-chief of the literary journal Ex Tempore.

After this event, I eyed the 19th Ex Tempore annual salon as the perfect occasion to provide the audience a taste of Albanian poetry, which was never declaimed during the annual salons.

Ex Tempore Blerim 2To give a bit of background information: The UN Society of Writers was launched on 14 August 1989 by the former UN staff members Sergio Chaves of Argentina, Leonor Sampaio of Brazil and Alfred de Zayas of the United States with the clear goal  “to prove that we could write literature – not just bureaucratic pseudo-intellectual stuff.”

Every year, the United Nations (UN) Society of Writers gathers its members at Dr. de Zayas’ home to present their literary adventures in their language of choice, poetry, essays, short-stories, drama and aphorisms.

And here I was, on January 23, 2015, during the 19th Ex Tempore annual salon, in front of this enthusiastic and passionate crowd, reflecting every corner of the world, irrespective of religion, sex, gender and culture, presenting Albanian poetry for the first time.

In the name of Albanian literature, I decided to write a poem myself entitled, “My Homeland” (Atdheu Im), reflecting the challenges every person, deciding to leave his home country, normally goes through in a new setting.

And I also translated a poem from an Albanian author, who wrote a magnificent poem entitled Një Dashuri (One Love), that I declaimed to the audience.

Ex Tempore BlerimI would strongly recommend poetry-writing to everyone: It requires being in a special mood in which you let your imagination and your emotions go, sometimes make profound reflections, tame your feelings, and test your powers with words.

I believe that poetry has the power of uniting people. Cultural exchange helps reduce prejudices. We need to use cultural events as a platform to find the commonalities that unites us all.

Based on this assumption, I thought I had peace of mind until I realized that Norwegian poetry had never been declaimed at the annual Ex Tempore salons.

What a pity! There are so many beautiful Norwegian poems that deserve to be presented and shared with poets.

Therefore, I decided to use the 20th Ex Tempore soirée as an occasion to recite Norwegian poetry, and reconnect with my childhood and memories in Kongsvinger.

I could not resist the temptation of presenting two poems entitled A Swan (En Svane) and Med en Rose (With a Rose) written by the 19th-century world-renowned Norwegian poet Henrik Ibsen.

Ex Tempore 2While being a high school student in Norway, I remember reading Ibsen’s poems in class, and analysing the influence that realism and modernism had on his poems. His early life impacted strongly on his poetry, particularly family relations, which are reflected in many of his writings.

Undoubtedly, the 20th Ex Tempore soirée became a great occasion to once again reconnect with my roots.

For these reasons, I am delighted that Albanian poetry is now available in Ex Tempore’s 26th volume, and that Norwegian poetry was presented at the 20th Ex Tempore event, along with Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish and Vietnamese poetry

During this great evening, the audience was made up of some sixty literature fans, twelve of whom read from their own works.

20160903_210800The latest edition of Ex Tempore will be available in the following libraries: UN library in Geneva, UN library in New York, Library of Congress, Bibliothèque de la Cité, the Suisse national library, the German national library, the French national library, the Spanish national library, the British national library, and finally, Mediathèque in Brig.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. de Zayas, and the UN Society of Writers for providing me the opportunity to share Albanian and Norwegian poetry.

Lastly, this blog post deserves the voice of Ex Tempore’s editor-in-chief, and his concluding remarks on the importance of poetry in the 21st century:

“When the United Nations Society of Writers was launched 26 years ago, none of us thought that we would still be publishing two decades down the line — in fact we saw our adventure as an experiment.

“Somehow our rather low-key activity seems to have touched a nerve, same as the Ex Tempore evenings.

“We do practically no publicity for the Ex Tempore salon, and 60 people show up.  That shows that there is a need for literature and relaxation — for the spiritual, not just for consumer goods.  We will continue doing it for as long as people enjoy it.”  Dr. de Zayas said to Arbanon Blog./ Blerim Mustafa

To access more photos from the event, please consult the website of Ex Tempore: http://www.extempore.ch/index.php?option=com_morfeoshow&task=view&gallery=9&Itemid=2 

Photo credit: Ex Tempore (United Nations Society of Writers), Dr. Alfred de Zayas

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