Luljeta Lleshanaku (born 1968, Elbasan, Albania) is an Albanian poet who is the recipient of the 2009 Vilenice Kristal prize for world poetry (past recipients have included Milan Kundera, Adam Zagajewski, Peter Handke, and Zbigniew Herbert.) She was educated in literature at the University of Tirana and was editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Zëri i rinisë (The Voice of Youth). She then worked for the literary newspaper Drita. In 1996, she received the best book of the year award from the Eurorilindja Publishing House. In 1999, she took part in the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. She is the author of four poetry collections, one volume of which has been translated into English: Fresco, available from New Directions. The writer, critic and editor Peter Constantine, in his introduction to Fresco, sums up her style in this way:
Luljeta Lleshanaku is a pioneer of Albanian poetry. She speaks with a completely original voice, her imagery and language always unexpected and innovative. Her poetry has little connection to poetic styles past or present in America, Europe, or the rest of the world. And, interestingly enough, it is not connected to anything in Albanian poetry either. We have in Lleshanaku a completely original poet."
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