is the Principal Broker of Proplocate Realty He is the author of several books.
Gjoka's poems flow naturally from theme to theme, candidly narrating human desires
In a volume of poetry that runs the gamut from beautiful and candid to vulgar and hyperbolic, Sami Gjoka exposes human nature in all its savage and heartbreaking permutations.
With a modern approach and intensity, We Shall Meet in Other Deaths uses patriotism,mysticism, and complex relationships to tell Gjoka's unique story as an Albanian American living and experiencing middle age in America. Drawing from insightful observation and speculation, Gjoka defines, mourns, and celebrates mortality with poems designed to connect with, and provoke, his readers.
Many of Gjoka's pieces are brilliantly drawn from experience with brutal honesty and nuance, and he is a man's poet. While he uses women in his poems, often to illustrate the injustice of society or the callousness of men, he makes no apologies about the fact that the women are written as faceless representations. In his poem "Glad I Do Not Have a Daughter," he tells his make-believe daughter that she comes "for the balls of men, who think that you
should be pleased / If they spread you and they spray you / With semen." He is coarse and generalizes both men and women into their most narrow and primitive selves. And yet,exaggerated as they may be, Gjoka uses pieces like these to grieve the faults of mankind and remind readers that these poems are a truth for many.
We Shall Meet in Other Deaths is not formatted with chapter breaks or sections, but the organization of the poems nevertheless feels deliberate and follows an organic thread through several themes. Gjoka begins by observing and mourning death as an outsider, questioning the significance of human life with cynicism and hidden pain. From there, his poems explore sexuality, the predatory instincts of man, and whether God created man in his image.
Gjoka takes on nationality and the tension of honor and disgrace in the long history of human civilization. In one of his longer poems, "Trust Those Down to the Ground," Gjoka covers centuries of religious and political unrest with thick footnotes and a masterful tone of uncertainty. But when he eventually ends with "don't you let little people who reach the peaks of Olympus / Tell you that they are the only legitimate sons of Gods, / For the lighter, higher things will float and will rise," he eloquently disarms an entire history. In the end, he returns to
death, writing several pieces in the first person to describe dying. There is a handful of less successful poems about why he is a poet, but Gjoka comes back to where he started, this time more personally connected with death.
There are scattered misspellings in the English poems, but having the Albanian and English text side by side is a wonderful, constant reminder of the author's experience and perspective. Gjoka's voice is authentic and well suited to his poems, which are blindingly real and thought provoking.
Gjoka’s first book of poems in English offers readers a rare chance to see the small moments of life through anothers eyes. This latest offering from Gjoka contains poems that cover such topics as birth, death, lovemaking and what it means to be human. While readers may not connect to every poem, most will find something that resonates with them. The author offers a supreme command of language, image and metaphor, and readers will find themselves lost in those poems that touch them deeply. He is versatile in his poetic structure, alternating between moments of breeziness and brutality without sacrificing the beauty of language or the intensity of his images. Though translated from the original Albanian (with the original text appearing on adjacent pages), Gjoka’s poems retain much of their lyrical and rhythmic qualities; “The old stems, / Old and dying / Have burst into new flowers, / Vanished stars that left space / Long ago” (“Love the Scents of Every Flower”). Readers of foreign literature will understand the changes that take place during translation, since poetry contains many idioms and difficult to convey allusions. However, most of these poems seem to retain their power in English, and allow readers to view the world through the lens of a different culture; “Some say there is a snake / We must slay / Filled with venom of religion / Of some other distant lands, / Of some poor, unhappy people / Scattered through some oil fields” (“Here So Close to the Capitol”). Readers may be turned off initially by the fact that these poems are translated, but a taste of what the author offers should help them over their hesitation and allow them to embrace these lines. Poetry buffs will likely find something to treasure in this collection and readers who find themselves drawn to its rhythms and images should welcome this work into their library. Sometimes gentle, sometimes harsh and often insightful, Gjoka’s poems take readers on a journey, leading them to new insights and helping them see the world through a unique perspective.