Poeti francez Vidal mbi librin “Zaratha’s Epistolary”

“Here ends the epistolary of the prisoner Frederik Çoba”… That is how your humble and touching book about the political prisoners of the island of Zaratha ends. A political book? Does this definition suit? I don’t think so. Enver Hoxha’s Albanian dictatorship, dubbed the People’s Socialist Republic, was one of the most dreadful, isolated and murderous. In the 1980s, changes in the Eastern block were made possible by Mikhail Gorbachev, and Albania was trying to follow suit. When a dictatorship and a dictator himself lock up men and women under any pretext, one wonders how in the name of ideas that are aimed at freeing men from these chains, seeking nothing more than a little love and care, they manage to shamelessly enslave them and eliminating any chance of achieving freedom.

Their goal is probably to satisfy an immeasurable hatred of the other and to be put on their own pedestal. Narcissus in its share of shade is thus made. “The Long Road to Plato’s Tunnel – The Fate of the Censored Artist, 1945-1990” (European Prize of the French Writers’ Association), a book of yours which I have published, describes this tragic situation like a wound inflicted on these men and women. The fate of the artists in your country Albania that you denounce with remarkable intellectual strength and honesty has been integrated into your political and poetic reflections. Your empathy is synonymous with the love for freedom. I am aware that you are a poet. Your book, The Territories of the Soul, which I have also published, is a testimony to your true lyricism and, among other things, your love of poetry. You love the French language and its poetry. Paul Eluard has undoubtedly been a great influence in your writing and awareness. As a poet and a filmmaker, you are fused body and soul in this extraordinary drama.

The composition of “Zaratha’s Epistolary”’ presents to us the complexity of this great story, the personal history of the people and the history of art. I say composition because for me, this is more than writing. Everything sounds harmonious and tragic at the same time in your book. The conversation in the letters of Çoba to Bruna, his love, is very deep, touching and lively. What creates your lyricism and the interest of this book is the creation of that echo in the abyss of the drama of hell experienced by Çoba and his companions, as well as the strength of Dante Alighieri’s work with selected quotations that highlight the continuation of the story. Moreover, while in prison, Çoba translates this extraordinary work. It creates the feeling that everything continues to remain the same and nothing changes.

“People have the faces of Nero, Antigone, Cassandra, Circe, Oedipus, Heraclius and Menelas… The same tragedy, different setting!” – you point out. The island of Zaratha has the contemporary taste of a dive into hell as imagined in the Greek mythology. Koron, the sailor, Rrapushi, is there to remind us of this mythological figure. Perhaps in the heart of the translator who loves Bruna, just like Dante loves Beatrice, this island, when everything is over, will become that simple paradise you describe. I don’t mean to evoke the lives of the prisoners that you have so much felt and written about in your book, as well as the presence of Pop, the priest, who is almost mad, or that camp guard, the cruel guard Cerbère, proving day after day that human bureaucratic idiocy rule as a god.

The descriptions of nature, the sea sounds, which the prisoners can only imagine, the sound of the birds crying, the reality of the frescoes, the noise of a plane flying over their shoulders and the castle, the endless days of investigation and questioning in the cells of Tirana until the death of dog Guli, display your art of evocation and accurate description through the facts of the daily life of these people in that “no man’s land”, that hell. Remarks on Dante and Florence intertwined with the survival of prisoners and Çoba’s need to dream make your art of writing even more convincing. “But Dante could not have imagined such an apocalypse,” you wrote in Fred’s words. For Dante, Beatrice was the morning star. The same can be said for Bruna, your hero’s lover, until his terrible end and disappearance, at a time when he had just finished translating the work. At the same time Bruna was able to get a permit to go and visit her boyfriend. A minute too late. The narration flows beautifully with a story that makes you shudder. It is a living and profound fresco.

Everything is terrifying in Dante’s work, you write thinking about the world of the translator. This is illustrated by the work of Botticelli wich accompanies the book. Just as it shows the fraternal solidarity that arises between these men who have become shadows. “Ideology cannot brake their friendship”, you say. What Çoba and his unlucky friends are experiencing is living proof of analogies with Dante’s world. Your book exudes a great love for “Divine Comedy”. The book consists of 13 letters. Thirteen strong and transparent letters that reinforce the idea of protecting happiness at all cost, which remain current and possible in our clear fraternal memory. We no longer believe the voices that sing to a better world, the horizon of which is taken prisoner by the moustache of the father of the people, Stalin. We need the “drunken ship” of Rimbaud. We need the “Ulyssian” dream of Frederik Çoba, our brother in arms and that butterfly that sits on his shoulder, as if it is sitting on ours. Your afterward describes how the idea of “Zaratha’s Epistolary” was born in your heart and in your soul.

Now that you like the “Divine Comedy” so much, I tell myself that you may also love the Beatles’ songs. Frederik Çoba stands there, sitting by the sea. I see him sitting like this, meditating about his sadness and predicament, praying for a better future for his love Bruna, the newly found Beatrice. This vision makes me think of Arthur Koesler’s book “Zero and Infinity” and the epilogue of the freedom space where the blue sea was offered to those who they wanted to lock in the bureaucratic sphere. “Free man, you will always enjoy the sea,” sang Baudelaire.

Recently, you wrote me a letter where you describe your conviction about having to believe in the prophecy of poetry about our future on the path of beauty. You were writing to me like a Rimbaud or the Albanian poet, Migjeni. “Respublica littéraria”, which you wish it would, one day, be established in Albania, I hope to see it establish in the France that we want as well. In your literary writing and poetry, there is also the presence of the red robin, words and phrases about beauty and white pelicans in Zaratha. Then, we have to stand hand in hand and patiently wait for this day to be born.