ISSN 2330-717X

Game Of Shadows: Selected Poems – Book Review

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As an Indian, I could relate very well to the poems as we too enjoy an independence today that was hard fought for …”

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“GAME OF SHADOWS”, a poetry collection by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, is an unusual bouquet of poems written with the sensitivity of both a poet and a medical doctor who has seen pain routinely during the course of his medical profession and in life having grown in a nation that has seen immense struggle!

The poems also hold forth the pain and pressure, and the determination and hope that led the Albanian people to their cherished goal. 

When destiny was lost

We journeyed traceless

We’re guilty, the egos roared

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 At last we ceded

Reached out

In pleas of hope

For deliverance

From the trepidations of our convictions…

(Page 2 – ON THE TRACKS OF DESTINY)

Albanianhood, you writhed for centuries 

Yet never bent over to antiquity

(Page 4- ROCKS AND PLISSES)

The above lines indicate the journey of struggle undertaken to reach a goal that seemed elusive, yet the struggle continued thus:

Imaginary snakes slithered

Through memories 

In expanses of time and centuries

Resistance starved

As mankind 

Forged broken mirrors…

(Page 3 – STARVED RESISTANCE)

And these lines further reinforce the struggle of a people, of an entire nation to break free and create an identity of their own. The anguished cry for freedom is unmissable throughout this poetry collection. Here’s a sampling:

In the age of innocence

I hoped to find the real name at least

While tears coursed my cheeks

Bouncing over unknown paths…

(Page 5 -SEARCHING FOR THE REAL NAME)

In fact, it will not be an exaggeration on my part to say that this book is a dedication to all those who struggled and laid down their lives for the freedom of Albania – for the Albania of today, that’s a freely-breathing country, standing on its own capabilities and power, holding its head high!

This pride of being able to move ahead on one’s own steam, is much in evidence in the poems by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi in his poetry collection “GAME OF SHADOWS”. And there is also this sense of pride in having developed the ability to forge one’s own distinct and clear path and identity in the world arena as a free country.

We took the path of progress

And reached day at dawn

Our passions now seethe

(Page 6 – AGONIZED DREAMS)

I consider it a huge honour to have been invited by the poet Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi to write a Foreword for his superbly-penned poetry collection “GAME OF SHADOWS” that is at once inspiring and touching at one level and is poetically pleasing and enlightening at another level.

His choice of words is impeccable, as are his sensitivity and power of expression.

Games of shadows hidden in mysticism

Beside them we carve freedom

In games of shadows

We turned body and soul into dust

Got drunk in tears and blood

To open the world’s eyes

To our freedom

The above lines so well express the helplessness and struggle as if breath has been stifled before it could dare to breathe out! Such has been the struggle for freedom! As an Indian, I could relate very well to the poems as we too enjoy an independence today that was hard fought for and got from the British after nearly two centuries of struggle!

The title GAME OF SHADOWS for this sensitively penned poetry collection by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, is so apt in every respect as I believe that the quest for freedom often leads one through a maze and game of shadows out of which one needs find a way out to be out in the open and breathe freely!

A standout feature of GAME OF SHADOWS is the language – so gentle, so soothing and yet asserting its points strongly. And this very feature makes it an outstanding poetry collection that teaches aspiring poets and also established poets a thing or two on how to make a point effectively without being in the face or hard-hitting!

After such a dream they played us

A game played with permissions and fires

Between Europe and Kosova

From the offices of Europe

They close our eyes with fire ash

So, they could break Mitrovica’s heart

The pathos and the pain, the disappointment and the hopelessness of a situation – can all be felt so deeply in the above lines, that we feel one with the people experiencing the pain!

The ultimate cry and the ultimate goal for freedom speaks in each word of this poetry collection superbly penned by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi.

As the title of the poem itself suggests GAME OF SHADOWS is an ethereal game of excellent wordplay and expressions that touch and move you, that appeal to your senses and that make you ponder deeply.

I wish to also add here that as poem after poem amply demonstrates in “GAME OF SHADOWS”, the struggle for freedom was hard fought by the Albanian people through their sweat and blood and through laying down lives for the higher cause of the independence of a nation.

On the amphora the voice threads the calamity

Made of butchered words and seedlings

And so the calamity is foretold

Over amphora’s throat, holding a fist

The winds breath inside the amphora

With a bleak wail coming from within

 The calamity build them for people

                     The amphoras wail for the calamity in return…

(Page 79 – Amphora Of Calamity)

“GAME OF SHADOWS” by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi is a book I’d recommend for every library and for every student of English Literature to learn the art and craft of poetry writing. In fact, it is a book that deserves to be prescribed for study in the syllabus for students of English Literature. 

The bio of Dr.Xhemil Bytyçi provided as part of the Bibliography at the end of this poetry collection, speaks volumes of his accomplishments as a poet and as a medical doctor.

I wish the sensitively-penned and poignant poetry collection “GAME OF SHADOWS” by Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, a far and wide reach and readership, as I believe that such a poetry collection needs to go far and keep making an impact all across the literary world!

*Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy,formerly a senior banker and an urban governance consultant, is currently an award-winning poet, writer, editor and reviewer. She is the President, Connecting Across Borders (CAB) and the Vice President of Poetry India International. Her maiden poetry collection “P-EN-CHANTS” has been recognized by the India Book of Records for never-before-attempted movie reviews and management topics in rhyming poetry. Paddy has just published her poetry collection “P-EN-CHANTS…Again”.  A recipient of several awards, Paddy has compiled and edited 6 international multilingual poetry anthologies of which “Amaravati Poetic Prism” 2016 to 2019 have been recognized by the Limca Book of Records (Published by Coca Cola India) as “Poetry Anthology in Most Languages. She has also compiled and edited “WWW – Women, Wit & Wisdom”, an International Multilingual Poetry Anthology of Women Poets. She was the Guest Editor for Setu, the Pittsburgh-based e-zine for their women-focussed March editions since 2019. Paddy’s poems articles and short stories, some of them prize winners, have been published in several international anthologies, print journals, e-zines and newspapers.

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