Child of Nature

The poems in Albanian-born Luljeta Lleshanaku's second book in English spring up urgently from the page, as if they must be chronicled, must be archived before they collapse. Forrest Gander writes that in Lleshanaku's work, "geography and soul are charted on the same map." A personal history that includes an upbringing under house arrest is expressed in poems that grapple with the public and the private, dream life vs. reality, and what renderings of the idea of "future" are, in fact, possible. This work also contains a deep respect for family lineage; the speaker often imagines or re-tells the narratives of her parents and grandparents. When looking inward, Lleshanaku brings forth moments of gripping awareness; in "You're One of Us" she writes, "Me, one of them / and in two places simultaneously. / I, the premonition of another life." In the book's title poem she describes herself as "a magpie with a diamond in its throat / a novel read aloud, beginning on the last page." Lleshanaku's poems are exciting and visionary.

This book review originally appeared in American Poets, fall 2010, issue 39.