Eqrem Basha (1948) is a poet, storyteller and novelist born in Dibër. He completed his studies in Albanian Language and Literature at the University of Prishtina. He is one of the founders of the Dukagjini Publishing House. Basha has published ten poetry books, six prose books and four novels. Has written film and TV scripts, arts critique, and has translated from French (Malraux, Sartre, Camus, Beckett, Ionesco, Levi-Strauss) and Italian (Ungaretti). In 1999 Fayard (Paris) he published a book with stories, in 2018 another French publisher, Non Lieu, published his novel Lakorja e Ik’sit. His poetry collections have been published in France, Poland, USA, etc



Nighttime traveller of this world


He did not get up like everyone else – in the morning

For him the day began in the trenches of the desperate

He arrived in this world from the night

And travels nocturnally to reach the day’s end

He did not get up when the sun rose

Nor was he born when ants awakened

In the final analysis you cannot write poetry about him

Because he is not human but a mole feeding

On the rotting roots of this world

He is neither alone nor with friends

To do his portrait you need shadows

Greyish hues and light filtering in through the fog

He did not get up like everyone else – in the morning

He travels his whole life long from the edge

To the heart of darkness

He belongs – as they say – to the family of the mole

Which respectable folk chase with poison

To protect their healthy roots

You cannot write even a verse about him

Although he is sensitive and employed

Married to a wife who loves him, with two or three children

With two or three m……washed his face in the morning dew

The light reflecting in the sparkling waters of the pristine well

Always keeps him blind

This is why he does not sleep when the rest of us do

He does not get up when everyone else does

He is quite prosaic on matters of poetry

You cannot write a ballad, modern verse

Or short lyrics about him

He is someone you never notice

From Building No. 7 of District No. 3, Unit CX 12/7, No. 23

On the 12th floor of Residence 47, left wing

A proletarian with a milk bottle at the door every day

And a roll of newspapers criticizing the degenerate morals

Of the world in which he lives

Any verse about him would be without appeal

And yet

He lives in this world

And merits

Having two or three words

Written about him

In a poem










Ode to mediocrity


We the mediocre

Were born somewhere in the middle

Cried in mezza voce

Were wrapped in medium-quality swaddling clothes

Neither expensive

Nor cheap

We the mediocre

Neither rose

Nor fell

We left a bit of space at the beginning

And at the end

So that our blades would not be blunted

We the mediocre

Eat at mid-day

Sit midpoint at the table

Find our names halfway down the list

Speak up in the middle of a conversation

Tighten our belt at the midriff

Have a beauty spot amid our brow

We the mediocre

Bite into the centre of the apple

We the mediocre

Get married neither young nor old

We the mediocre

In the midst of mid-life

Build an average home

Neither wealthy nor poor

We the mediocre

Neither clever nor stupid

Neither strong nor weak

We the mediocre

Neither big nor small

Neither guilty nor innocent

We the mediocre

Equidistant at middle-age

Live an average life


In the middle of this century

And in the middling midst of the middle

We get accustomed to it

We the mediocre

And do not stop at the end of the road

And do not start at the beginning

But stand rather somewhere

In the middle

We the mediocre

Walk right through the middle of the world



Translated by Robert Elsie