Gjekë Marinaj receives the International Literary Award "Changwon" from South Korea

Gjek Marinaj receives the International Literary Award "Changwon" from South Korea
Gjekë Marinaj while receiving the International Literary Award "Changwon" 
 Albanian-American poet, writer, and literary critic Gjekë Marinaj has been awarded yesterday with the most prestigious literary and cultural award of South Korea, the "Changwon KC International Literary Award".

A Dallas resident, Marinaj is a professor at Richland College and director of Mundus Artium Press.

His full speech during the award ceremony:

"My deepest thanks to the Mayor of Changwon City the Honorable Huh Sungnu and the literary committee and its chairman Prof. Choi Dongho who selected me for this great award. I also express my gratitude to the people of this city for the spirit of welcome and the high respect you have for the ideals of literature, to which I also bow.

The Changwon KC International Literary Award is one of the most important honors of my life.

I share it with my childhood friends, with my former teachers of literature, with all the poets and writers of the world, and with all the former servants of literature whom your city has so graciously valued.

To me, literature is like an ocean. The deeper we go into it, the harder it is to get away.

Early in my life, I enjoyed reading literature because it helped me get rid of the oppressive feeling of living under communism. Literature made me feel as free, as rich, and as attractive as any child in the world.

Sometimes, however, my love for literature translated into deep trouble.

When I was very young, I bought an anthology of newly published Greek poetry and read the whole book in one sitting. My father, angry with me for neglecting the harvest in favor of reading, took my book and told me he would only return it to me after five years - which he did, five years later. This phenomenon inspired me to compose one of my favorite poems entitled "Book as a gift from parents".

As a poet, when I started writing poetry, the first time I managed to publish some, I found myself in the biggest trouble of my life. Tired of communism, I wrote an anti-communist poem called "Horses." Shortly afterward, I was forced to flee Albania to the former Yugoslavia. The police were following me, seeking to arrest me or maybe even kill me for the crime of writing that poem.

After that, I went to America. I want to express my gratitude to America, the place where my suffering ended.

I like to write because literature is for everyone. Literature has a beautiful power to enhance the life of every member of the human race. Literature is love. It is like sunlight and air, without borders, there for anyone who needs it, because literature is our true nature.
Sometimes, before my exile, I would get very angry and say to my loving parents and close friends: I do not think I belong to this world. I wish I could disappear to another planet, somewhere where someone would understand my love for literature and what I'm trying to do with it.

Tonight, this city and the great honor of this award continue our joint work to create a time, a space, and a planet where the love for literature is deeply understood in essence, where literature is nourished as the very spirit of life.
Gjekë Marinaj receives the International Literary Award "Changwon" from South Korea Gjekë Marinaj receives the International Literary Award "Changwon" from South Korea Wednesday, October 13, 2021 Rating: 5
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