On Saturday, my friend Val and I presented at Kosovo’s 7th annual KETNET conference. KETNET stands for Kosova English Teachers’ Network (their website is here).
I am helping Val organize Po-e-Zë, a national English language poetry recitation competition. The competition started in Albania. Val and another Peace Corps volunteer brought it to Kosovo last year. My students participated, which I wrote about in this post.
Our goal in presenting at KETNET was to spread the word and get more local teachers involved in the competition, even if they don’t have a Peace Corps volunteer at their school.
After our presentation, a student who competed last year gave a speech on what competing meant to her. Then, she recited her poem.
This is one of the bigger secondary projects in which I’ve been involved. I am looking forward to working with my students on memorizing their poems, hosting a local competition, and then organizing the national competition in Pristina in December.
At the beginning of December, before a week-long Peace Corps training, I was hanging out with some other volunteers in Pristina. They were going to a poetry slam competition at a local high school. Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to tag along. Honestly, I expected to be bored for two hours. (How exciting can a high school poetry slam competition be, #amIright?) But I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the talent of these students.
Another volunteer helped judge the competition, and she put me in touch with Alba Arifi, who wrote my favorite poem. Alba has graciously agreed to allow me to post her poem, Hello!, on this blog. So without further adieu …
Hello! by Alba Arifi
You know me, for sure.
I come from far away, risen from the ashes of my childhood
Hello! I know this is unexpected
You never thought you’d see me again, for sure.
But I saw you today
So I thought I’d say hello!
Not that I am a big fan, I already have your signature, written all over me.
Not that I wanted to hear your voice,
It still haunts me in the dark, like a terrifying lullaby that takes your sleep away.
Not that I missed your touch, for I can still feel it, everyday, every minute, ripping away my purity.
Because I still have trouble breathing from the day you used my halo to choke me on my innocence
Hello! I’m the one you left in ruins, you said you mean no harm, and I didn’t know you have no idea what “no harm” means.
Hello! The ghost of the past Christmas.
Not pleased to see you here, on the bus, who knew! You’re just another person.
Isn’t it funny? How no one in this bus has any idea what a horrifying beast you are,
how that young lady sits next to you,
never knowing what you are.
Makes you really wonder,
how many vicious animals do we cross paths with,
never to know what they really are.
Hello! I want to ask you if you know that your touch is some kind of dark magic.
Do you know that it can ruin a life?
Hello! I wanted my first time to be special,
with someone I feel deeply for but I didn’t mean this.
Because I feel a deep hate for you,
but I meant for it to be love.
I never asked for it to be THIS “special”
I wanted to remember my first time, but I guess I should have been more careful with what I wished for, because now I can never get it out of my mind.
Perhaps the best way to improve memory is trying to forget
See, wishes do come true.
Hello! I’m sorry for disturbing,
I just want to feed you with a little of this poetic poison inside of me.
From the touch that I deeply abhor
Make you eat the forbidden fruit that feeds your ego
And take from me the felicity that makes me whole.
And when the night comes, I’m stuck with the ambiguousity of life
“To be or not to be?”
From what I’ve tasted of sorrow
I stand with those who live for tomorrow
Even though life made me the prey
with my pain I’ll be the hunter
And I’ll sure make you pay
In a non poetic way.