In the battle and stand of this people sacrificing and dying to realize its aspiration, we seem like immortals more beautiful and gallant than anyone alive. And there is no power that can stop us on our luminous road.
Swimming with Elephants Publications is honored to introduce you to our most recent release: Bekimi I Nënës, A Mother’s Blessing, poetry by Jusef Gërvalla, translated by Jack Hirschman and Idlir Azizaj. This is the first time this collection, originally published by the Naim Frashëri Publishing House, in Tirana, Albania in 1983, is translated in the English Language.
Gërvalla was known as a journalist and a musician as well as a poet, novelist, and founder of the Marxist-Leninist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo. In 1983, a year after the original publication in his native Kosovo Albanian, Jusuf Gërvalla, his brother Bardhosh, and comrade Kadri Zeka were allegedly murdered by the Serbian secret service in their exile in Germany.
With the publication of Bekimi I Nënës, A Mother’s Blessing, Jusuf Gërvalla’s poetry, including selections from his three books: They Fly and Fall, Green Stork, and Sacred Marks, can be shared by the English-speaking population.
You can also find Hirschman’s first publication with Swimming with Elephants Publications, Passion, Provocation & Prophecy at Bookworks ABQ, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
Hailed as “one of the left’s most prolific and consistent poetic voices,” by Contemporary Poets, Jack Hirschman was born in 1933 in New York City and grew up in the Bronx.
He is known for his radical engagement with both poetry and politics: he is a member of the Union of Street Poets, a group that distributes leaflets of poems to people on the streets. He has also been instrumental in the formation of the Union of Left Writers of San Francisco.
The former poet laureate of San Francisco, Hirschman’s style has been compared to poets ranging from Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Dylan Thomas, and Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg. His poems’ commitment to leftist politics draws comparisons to Vachel Lindsay and Pablo Neruda.
In keeping with his political values, Hirschman’s books are published with small, independent presses, often in small runs (such as Swimming with Elephants Publications). According to the poet David Meltzer, Hirschman is “a great teacher who refuses to work in the university, a scholar of great merit who refuses to publish in the mainstream presses; most everything is published by himself, 150 copies.”
Though Hirschman has rejected mainstream success, he has published prolifically. His 50-plus volumes of poetry include A Correspondence of Americans (1960), Lyripol (1976), Front Lines: Selected Poems (2002), and All That’s Left (2008). His 1,000-page masterpiece, The Arcanes, was published in 2006. The work, written over decades, was heralded by Alan Kaufman in the San Francisco Gate as “unlikely and historically significant a literary production as, say, the appearance of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass or James Joyce’s Ulysses… like Whitman’s and Joyce’s masterpieces, it traces the progress of an individual consciousness through landscapes teeming with the horrible glory of modern life.”
But while he is known throughout San Francisco, his real literary fame has blossomed in Europe, where he frequently publishes both his original work and volumes of translation. Meltzer noted that in France “they consider him a major Communist poet.” Part of Hirschman’s dedication to politics and poetry can be traced to his numerous translations of radical poets from around the world.
Hirschman continues translating the work of radical poets with the publication of Bekimi I Nënës, A Mother’s Blessing.