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 queer identity by Tirana’s duo Livia Tice and Sonja Azizaj won third place.
The things I wanted to eat, have been eating me this whole time
They say you cannot eat ice cream with bread,
but in Albania you eat cheese with watermelon.
It’s like, what is the point of wanting to know
what it is to know, what goes with what
A few days ago I met someone,
and that someone’s name was “bi.”
My immediate thought was
“Get out of here.”
This isn’t the first time that it happened though.
I can almost feel it, every minute of a therapy session,
from which I still haven’t learned enough
to not be afraid of the shadows that used to be,
but now are only there in my mind.
The first time I thought a girl was beautiful
I kept thinking that all day long,
Till the night washed the tears of shame,
because no fucking way,
I’m not a lesbian,
because yet still, no fucking way a person who hates
homophobes can be homophobic to herself.
I fall in love only from the backstage.
And an anxiety attack swallows me whole
every second of a human touch.
I don’t know how to not be touched without
fighting with my isolation.
My bisexual friend kept calling me,
bisexual who has more interest in guys,
but hi, I’m a human lover
and no, I wouldn’t like anyone to know about my sexual identity.
Sometimes I admit that I wouldn’t like to know if my brother is gay or straight
the same way he wouldn’t like to know my number of curves from being straight
Or how I feel alone after school
before my melancholic nap.
It is scary to scream “abuse”
but it is even scarier to speak its consequences.
Maybe my sexual identity is nothing but it!
Because when you introduce yourself to me,
Hi I’m straight but you also wouldn’t like to know how I think that Kate Moss
Is fucking glorious,
and hi, maybe you just need to know my name.
Today I am queer,
Yesterday I was gay, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been straight this whole time.
My name in Italian means dream and I keep telling that to everyone because
they need to know I’m a shameless formless dreamy dream.
To the people that ask me about why
I decided to cut my hair
or paint my eyebrows purple
or wear black clothes
or wide ones
or write poems with odd meanings
or post a picture of a genderless person somewhere dark
in social networks
or why I am the way I am.
Sometime ago I came to the term queer but what is this need
to come out,
Maybe I don’t want to come out from the mess of being myself. But why?
I don’t fucking know!!
Why should my body
and my sexuality
and my personality
have a formula?
Because I cannot imagine myself after twenty years hugging your girlfriend,
but even in her absence, you hugging me in a boheme purple bed,
so in a form of a dream it comes to me that
I might be asexual.
Who wants to decipher me in that way,
This way I help others break me down.
Then is when I chill and terrify at the same time with the fear of being lonely
my whole life because at the end I love humans, I love breasts, I love beards
and every-thing-one that made me write this poem.
I cannot decipher myself.
I am lonely,
I am horny,
I am afraid,
I am disgusted,
I am confused.
I am confused.
But yet I don’t want to name, categorize, and target myself.
I’m a fucking abstract concept and I cannot love myself
because I’m a bad dream you had some days ago when you saw your daughter having a wet dream
of Léa Seydoux’s pussy.
I don’t know my next line.
I don’t fucking know so there’s no need to introduce myself at all.
I remain at pleasuring myself with myself.
Why should it matter this time?
I am what I will never be.
Feature image: Majlinda Hoxha / K2.0.