Today is the 90th birth anniversary of the Albanian prominent poet, writer, politician, and former president of the Albanian League of Writers and Artists, Dritëro Agolli . He studied in Leningrad in the Soviet Union, and wrote primarily poetry, but also short stories, essays, plays, and novels. He was head of the Albanian League of Writers and Artists from 1973 until 1992.
Agolli was born to a Bektashi peasant family in Menkulas in the Devoll District and finished high school in Gjirokastra in 1952. He later studied at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leningrad and took up journalism upon his return to Albania, working for the daily newspaper Zëri i Popullit (The People’s Voice) for 15 years. Agolli was also a Member of the Albanian Parliament.
Agolli first was a poet. His early verse collections were "I went out on the street" (Tirana 1958), "My steps on the pavement" (Tirana 1961), and "Mountain paths and sidewalks "(Tirana 1965).
As a prose writer, Agolli first wrote the novel Commissar Memo (Tirana 1970), translated into English as "The bronze bust"( Tirana 1975). Agolli's second novel, "The man with the cannon" (Tirana 1975) translated into English in 1983, takes up the partisan theme from a different angle.
After these two novels of partisan heroism, Agolli produced his satirical "Splendour and fall of comrade Zylo" (Tirana 1973). He was also president of the Albanian League of Writers and Artists.
Agolli wrote throughout the 1990s. He has verse collections: "The time beggar" (Tirana 1995), "The spirit of our forefathers" (Tirana 1996), "The strange man approaches" (Tirana 1996), "Ballad for my father and myself" (Tirana 1997), "Midnight notebook" ( Tirana 1998), and "The distant bell" (Tirana 1998). Among volumes of prose are: the short story collection "Insane people" (Tirana 1995); "The naked horseman" (Tirana 1996), and "The devil's box" ( Tirana 1997).
Though Agolli was a leading figure in the communist nomenclature, he remained a highly respected pillar of public and literary life after the fall of the dictatorship, and is still one the most widely read authors in Albania. In the early 1990s, he was active for several years as a member of parliament for the Socialist Party of Albania. He also founded his own Dritëro Publishing Company by means of which he has been able to publish many new volumes of prose and poetry, and make a major impact on literary and intellectual life in the country.
Dritëro Agolli has been a prolific writer throughout the nineties, a rare voice of humanity and sincerity in Albanian letters.