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A mostly one-sided dialogue between homophobia and young queer kids

Kosovo Slam Poetry festival 2016’s winning poem by Lindon Krasniqi.

By - 06.12.1616

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 was the winning poem on homophobia and transphobia by Lindon Krasniqi.


Photo: Anita Maloku / Chester Eng

A mostly one-sided dialogue between homophobia and young queer kids

You have been given
a time and a place.
A home and a name.
A body.
It is yours
only as much as it is ours.
And you wouldn’t want to ruin that,
now would you?
You wouldn’t want to take up too much of your own skin,
now would you?
You’d make people think you don’t have enough.
You don’t appreciate what you have, why would you want more of it?
We’ve taken your body, it’s true.
But, we’ve given you

It’s the kind of love that makes your heart skip a beat and then want to skip all of them.

The kind of love that keeps you right here, in this time and place. Frozen. Stuck. And grateful for it.

It is the kind of love that makes you feel amazing with a shriveled heart and dry eyes, so you only ever cry with tear gas.

It is the kind of love that asks only in half-true answers.
It wakes you up at 3 AM demanding you feel it.

It is the kind of love that gives you a dinner seat,
ties you up.

It gives you a chair and rope
so you can practise hanging your
From your mouth.
Around the table.

Your speech is right here.

You have a cheat sheet right in front of you with our name on it.

You will speak our words or swallow yours.

But remember:
You are loved.
And needed.
And useful.
And used.
And abused.
And loved.
And loved.
And loved.
You are clean.
And pure.
And lying.
And pure.
And sanitized.
Forgive us.
We are not perfect.

Only as good as the best soaps out there,
we’ve only managed to kill about
99.99 percent of your bacteria.
I mean
99.99 percent of you.
I mean
your body.
I mean
your corpse.
I mean
our corpse.
I mean
you are grateful.
I mean
you are loved.

You are amazing.

Your body has such capacity.
To feel.
To love.

Yours is the kind of skin that can
and give
and give.

And we have the kind of love that you like.
I mean
you want.
I mean
you need.
I mean
you have.

Ours is the kind of love that can
and take
and take.

Don’t you want it?

Don’t you know that if you get killed,
I mean,
when you get killed,
you may at best become a hashtag.
That your ashes may become pepper spray for the ignorant.
And no,
I don’t mean ashes as in your body burned, not buried, you know?
I mean ashes as in burned while you were alive, you know?

Like how,
a long time ago,
in medieval Europe,
they burned women they thought were witches alive,
while people watched,
you know?

Or how,
a month ago,
in Instanbul,
a transgender woman and activist was raped and beaten and set on fire,
while people cheered,
you know?

Don’t you know,
that no one will mention your name
until after you are dead.

Don’t you know,
that our love keeps your broken branch body alive.

Don’t you know,
that your body is a question mark,
That your corpse is an explanation point,
or three dots dissolving into the page break of apathy,
left to be continued like all the other articles deadnaming lives gone below the surface.

Don’t you know,
that decay inside of a coffin,
I mean closet,
I mean coffin,
I mean closet,
is the closest you will ever get to love.
I mean absence of hate.
I mean rest.
I mean protest.
I mean I’m sorry.
I mean I didn’t ask for this either.
Which is not to say I will not have to answer for this.
Which is not to say I have the courage to raise my hand for this.
With which I say stop.
I say stop.
I say stop.
Which is to say you have more power over my own struggle than I do.
To which you say fuck off.
To which I say I’m right here.
I’m right here.
I’m right here.
Fuck, I’m staying.

Photos: Majlinda Hoxha / K2.0.