Anxhela offers us a brief snapshot of her stay in Norwich. She describes meeting local residents for a birthday party and wandering down Elm Hill on a quiet Sunday afternoon. This creative commission dwells on wanting to keep a sense of home with you while travelling.
This residency was part of the Translation in Motion project, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Read on for Anxhela’s commission.
You are greeted by sunshine in England. From your single bed, it looks fantastic. Yes, you haven’t slept in a single bed in a long time. The time is actually 8:05 even if the watch claims it is 9:05. You attempted to adjust the watch but were unsuccessful, so you chose to keep it as a reminder of the time in the country you left behind. The English homes you see from the window resemble those in old pictures. To actually see them is pretty unique. At the same time, they seem to be extremely familiar. Why everything feels so natural in this place is really a mystery. You manage things with ease here, despite the fact that some of what they say may be difficult for you to understand at first due to different dialects. As happened with one author at the Social at Dragon Hall where Marija and you had to introduce yourselves and your work. In the end, hardly anyone was likely to recall where you come from.
The Dragon Hall story is incredible. History has been built up in layers. The documentation is all in wood, brick, and mortar. The wood has burn marks on it. As a result of candles lit by the windows to ward off witches. The ‘witches’ eventually made their way into the hall in a different guise centuries later, when the place was transformed into a brothel. A magnificent location that makes you feel as though you are standing inside the ribcage of a dragon. At the Dragon Hall, you run into Miriam. She is a regular at the literary circles of the National Centre of Writing. She is a cool lady, and guess what? She invites Marija and you to her birthday party, a couple of days later.
Marija and you decide to stop at Murderer’s for a meal before going to her apartment. Only Britons would convert a crime scene into a pub. Also, in keeping with the theme, it is covered in images of illustrious murderers, and even the dishes on the menu have sinister names. Marija goes for Bonnie and Clyde while you order the Krays’ burger. Of course, you are a twin and a Gemini. They bring you deadly amounts of food. You two couldn’t possibly finish it.
When you head to Miriam’s, the weather becomes shitty. Your hands are frozen as you hold the umbrella with the duck-shaped head in the pouring rain. You have forgotten your gloves for the second time. Due to your difficulty finding the location, you arrive roughly 40 minutes late. When you arrive, you have no idea what to anticipate. You estimate that there are around 20 individuals conversing and drinking wine in the room. But you discover a standard tea party. With the greatest tea set, tea, and little delights. The group consists of Miriam, two of her friends, and two young American girls. It turns out to be a lovely afternoon. A birthday party you are likely to never forget.
It’s Sunday. You need to visit Miriam today to get the phone charger you left behind at her birthday party. But since you can’t visit until four o’clock, you opt to explore the city on your own. As you want to arrive on time this day, you have made the decision to leave an hour early. The only problem is that you’ve been using your watch, which was set to home time. You realize you left two hours sooner when you are halfway there. You end up roaming around, while trying to find some place to eat. Apparently, it is quite difficult to find open restaurants or street food on a Sunday afternoon. Walking in pursuit of food, you end up in Elm Hill. A nice old street. Deserted. At some point it is only you, the wind, ravens, birds from the river nearby and the creaking of a store sign. The feeling is so gothic. You cannot help pulling out the camera and recording a video. Unfortunately, the raven won’t scream anymore to be part of the video. The deserted city pushes you toward the cottage where you’re staying at. You feel painfully homesick and lovesick.
Anxhela Çikopano Hoxha is a Theater Researcher by the Academy of Albanian Studies, and a Theater Director. She has a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, with a focus on Albanian drama and customary laws. She began her career as a translator by promising herself that she would bring into Albanian the books she would want to read. Anxhela Çikopano has faithfully followed through the commitment she made to herself by translating a wide range of classic and contemporary authors from English, Italian, and German (+60 books, +300 movies), including British authors such as Gaskell, Galsworthy, Le Carre, Fellowes, and Wesker.
This residency is part of the Translation in Motion project, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
Header image (c) Luke Witcomb.
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