Gëzim Hajdari (b. 1957) was born in Lushnja in central Albania of a family persecuted by the communist regime. He studied Albanian language and literature in Elbasan. In 1992, he moved to Italy and lived alone in Frosinone in the humble ruins of a building which had been abandoned for many years. In 1997, when he received Italy's prestigious Montale Prize for unpublished poetry, the municipal council of Frosinone, a town situated between Rome and Naples, offered him a new apartment. Hajdari, now one of the leading non-Italian poets of Italy, though still an outsider in Albanian literature itself, writes and publishes both in Albanian and Italian.
Gëzim Hajdari has published numerous volumes of verse, most of which recently in bilingual (Albanian-Italian) editions: Antologjia e shiut (Anthology of the Rain), Tirana 1990, reprint Santarcangelo di Romagna 2000; Ombra di cane / Hije qeni (Shadow of the Dog), Frosinone 1993; Sasso contro vento / Gurë kundër erës (Stone Against the Wind), Milan 1995; Pietre al confine (Stones at the Border), Ancona 1998; Corpo presente (Body Present), Tirana 1999; Erbamara / Barihidhur (Bitter-Grass), Santarcangelo di Romagna 2001; Stigmate / Vragë (Stigmata), Nardò / Lecce 2002; and Spine nere / Gjemba të zinj (Black Thorns), Nardò / Lecce 2004. He is also the author of San Pedro Cutud (San Pedro Cutud), Santarcangelo di Romagna, 2004, on his travels in the Philippines. Hajdari has been marked as an individual and as a poet by his experience of exile and isolation. "My identity is Gëzim, my body is my fatherland," he tells us.