Prishtina once again hosted the Kosovo Slam Poetry festival in December, the second time that Kosovo’s youngsters have been provided the space to express their struggles and social issues through their original verses. Organized by alumni from the YES youth exchange and study program, the festival brought together 13 finalists — chosen from a total of 25 applications — aged 15 to 25 to perform their poems in front of a full house at the American School of Kosovo amphitheater.
The aim of the festival is to address current societal problems through poetry, with entrants from both Kosovo and Albania using verse to answer the question, “What is the issue in your country that keeps you awake at night?” Topics chosen by entrants ranged from homophobia and sexual harassment to love and identity. The jury, composed of writer and journalist Arber Selmani, Peace Corps volunteer Kate Wallner and K2.0 staff writer Dafina Halili, selected the top three poems and also gave one special mention.
K2.0 is publishing all the winning poems — this poem on love by Alma Feka won second place.
Day 378. I’m still… hearing that buzzing sound I hate.
Sick thoughts, like bees, they swarm my brain.
Their hive devoid of honey, but filled with things so vain
towering over me like a rusty crane.
“How did it come to this?” I act so disappointed asking the mirror at night,
It says: “This could’ve been prevented, but your dumb ass didn’t fight!”
That’s right… But how could I when
walls of pride crumble beneath your feet, my object of affection.
Words crowd my throat, strangling the voice cords when you glance to my direction.
It’s not infatuation! Infatuation is supposed to pass like a storm.
But your being is residing inside my stomach, like a nasty tapeworm!
So please let me cradle your beauty, like a newborn baby…
every move, every breath, your mental construction.
And let your eyes swallow me whole. I must be really into self destruction.
But to my defense!
Your silhouette follows me without rest. I detest it, but can’t protest.
LOOK AT ME NOW! I’ve become a fool who is utterly obsessed!
All I want to do is draw your hands…
Twirling fingers, writing slow in the air. To be fair
such grace, such flow in this world is truly rare.
So, I guess you win. I give in.
I’ll repeat, drawing down your heartbeat until this sketchbook is full!
Pin down your beauty and throw away what is dull.
Erase everything that doesn’t suit you,
every line that makes it messy.
It has to be immaculate. Perfect, like how I see you!
Every freckle on your skin. Every place where you’ve been,
it has to show in those beat up converse of yours.
How your hair is short or was it, long? Every time you sung a song,
it has to show in those chapped lips of yours.
No metaphor. No metaphor. NO METAPHOR is worthy of your physique!
Brows on fleek. Collarbones a straight line,
so fine, I just need to take a peek.
Unique. Chances for my well-being are looking very bleak.
Take some responsibility, you made me into A FREAK!
Fine… is what other people are. A deranged maniac is what I became.
Like a mantra, my pen drips out the syllables of your name
and I pour into this sketchbook those lies, lies, lies!
Tell me!… Just how charming are you in my eyes?
Feature image: Majlinda Hoxha / K2.0.