By Peter Tase
One of the distinguished scholars in the United States is Prof. René Antrop-González who has reviewed Ndue Ukaj’s volume of poetry “Godo is Not Coming”; in his statement, González underlines Ndue Ukaj’s values, European aspirations, avant-garde literary stile as well as his vision for a more contemporary style in Albanian-Kosovar Literature.
According to Prof. González: “The poetry of Ndue Ukaj takes me back to my days as an undergraduate student majoring in Spanish at the University of Central Florida in the early 1990s. I was very interested (and still am) in examining the impact of socialist thought in the poetry of Luis Muñoz Marín, who was the first elected governor of Puerto Rico. However, he was also the intellectual author and implementer of Puerto Rico’s status as a “Free Associated State,” a legal term used to couch the Island’s colonial relationship with the United States. In his socialist influenced poetry, Muñoz Marín rightfully and sharply pointed out the ravages of colonialism on the plight of the Puerto Rican people, especially the Island’s sugar workers who labored long and hard for very little pay and only succeeded in making the already privileged much wealthier.
Prof. René Antrop-González, is a highly experienced professor of ESL / bilingual education, has taught in the University of Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, and currently teaches at the Dalton State College in Georgia, United States. As a multicultural educational leader, Prof. González notes: “the contradiction I have pointed out above between the social justice thoughts in his poetry and his practices as a colonial governor are stark. Moreover, Governor Muñoz Marín added unfortunate weight to this contradiction when he instituted policies and practices that repressed dissenting voices. One such powerful dissenting voice was that of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos, the Black Puerto Rican Harvard educated attorney who advocated for the rights of sugar workers and trade unions. As an outspoken critic of United States imperialism its psychologically and physically violent impact on Puerto Rico’s people, Albizu Campos would later become the leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. Hence, due to his public critiques of the colonial partnership between the United States and Puerto Rico, Muñoz Marín would work to persecute Albizu Campos by ordering for his arrest and incarceration in the United States prison system. Albizu Campos died in 1965 as a martyr for the cause of Puerto Rican independence.”
Prof. Gonzalez as an expert of African American and Latino sociology of education, finds in Ndue Ukaj’s poetry special cultural strings that connect various nations’ literatures which are bonded by universal aspirations for liberty, freedom and economic integration; he emphasizes: “In the same spirit, what makes Ndue Ukaj’s poetry compelling is his defense of freedom for the human condition throughout his work. Ukaj sharply strikes attention towards wo/man’s quest for exploring physical nature and its connections with the realization of self. I was especially fascinated with The Emigrant and its juxtaposition with America’s Founding Fathers. In the United States, millions of immigrants are problematically framed by conservative politicians as “illegal aliens” who are only intent on becoming parasites who exploit taxpayers’ hard work and hard earned privileges. What these conservative framers omit from their dehumanizing discourse is the fact that undocumented immigrants often aspire to come to the United States precisely because large corporations and governments have conspired to exploit Brown workers in the name of large profit margins thus severely limiting the life chances of such workers and their families. Moreover, these conservative framers engage in acts of his/torical amnesia. Hence, many United Statesians conveniently exalt the immigrant experiences of their ancestors while denigrating the most recent immigrant experiences of families from south of the border.
Ukaj reminds is readers and imaginers that we need a Song for Don Quijote—we need to call forth the dreamers and doers of social justice! We must eradicate his/torical amnesia and remember the dreams of the marginalized and voiceless! Ukaj remind us that the will to dream and act with the oppressed is our moral obligation for our lives are short and fraught with dehumanizing and exploitive obstacles. As you embrace the poetry of Ukaj, take strong hold of his call for freedom to all!”
Prof. Antrop-González graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico with a Master of Education in teaching courses of English as a second language; and has received his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University, with an emphasis in curriculum, bilingual education and instruction.