Notes about life and activity of Shpend Sollaku No
by Attilio Bertolucci.

S.S.No is known as a poet, writer, politician, professor, literary critic, investigator journalist in the field of state nomenclature corruption and symbioses with organized crime.
No is one of the first organizers and leaders of the opposition who, risking life, made possible the collapse of communism in the East; is one of the pioneer publishers of neo-democratic East European press; is the first who denounced the Mafia's penetration in the East and infiltration of organized crime in the state nomenclatures; is the first who denounced the war in the Balkans (especially in Bosnia and Kosovo) and predicted length of its development; is the first who, when the West applauded the victory of democracy in the East Europe, has warned of swift return in power of crypto-communists.
No was born in Albania on April 3, 1957 in a family of clerks. He had a difficult childhood because, when he was three years old, his father, a monarchist, was sentenced of imprisonment as a "saboteur" of the Hoxha regime. His family, mother and six children, in whom No was the youngest child, experienced, besides the economic hardship, the psychological violence and terror of class war. Little No lived with pain seizure of the house, expulsion from school to his brother, imitation of cross-handed handcuffs on the streets by the children of censors. His mother, a teacher, was transferred far away from home and his oldest brother, although still a teenager, played the fathers role. He "obliged" his sibling to read books and listen to classical music all day, miraculously saving them from the ugly consequences of marginalization.
During childhood, No read books "for adults" and started to write intensively and even to publish. He wrote stories, drama and poetry. Fourteen years old, No won music contest in capital of Tirana, but he couldnt continue artistic Lyceum. Back in his hometown, he enrolled in high school continuing to be excellent in class, and pursued reading, writing and, occasionally, publishing.
At the same time No was activated as an actor, singer, librettist and "show-friend", and started to attend anti regime environments. During the high school years, two national seminars for young talents were organized and No was the dominant author and presenter. He ended the school with excellent grades, but his high school degree was jeopardized by a pair of anti-communist pants and by singing in the park famous foreign songs with a group of friends. The excellent grades werent enough to earn him the right to continue university, and he desperately sought his right to study for three straight years. Eighteen years old, he prepared his first book, "The Sphinx", after publishing in newspapers and magazines. Ismail Kadare, a great Albanian writer, and a political exile in France since 1989, wrote to the chief of the "Naim Frashri" Publishing House: "Dear the author of these verses is a boy with original talent. I ask, if it is possible, to make the book review.The Kadare's request was rejected. Everything that was good to Kadare, it was ugly to publisher of the regime. Publication of Nos book was denied, and he was pressured to return to the traditional clich of socialist realism.
In 1978, thanks to the energetic intervention of the Writers Association and personally its president, great poet Dritro Agolli, near Hoxha's, No won the right, "outside the criteria", to study in Albanian language and literature. But as soon as registered at university, they posted him on the island of Sazan to perform military service for three years as a sailor. There he was enforced to make 12 hour service in 24 hours and later hard labor to open tunnels!
In this period, secretly, because soldiers were prohibited by law to frequent school, risking arrest, No attended lectures and finished in a few months all the exams (the first year - in five days: it was normal for him giving two exams a day, even three exams getting the maximum grade).
In 1980 his father died, but army officers did not tell him. Alerted by a soldier postman, he left island of Sazan at midnight on a freighter and reached home hours before the funeral. Return to the island was infernal: special surveillance, tunnel work and no more permits to see his family. It's the elderly mother who, though sick, traveled to give him the denied literature.
Returned to freedom in 1982, No began work as a teacher in the town of Lushnje, but since he was an undesirable element, was transferred to one of the poorest villages of Albania, in a high school where also the children of political prisoners were studied. He could not dream to become a singer (his voice was recorded by secretaries of the party and was halt as too Western), and couldnt be an actor. In the village where No taught, he managed to create a new talent group with his students, who amounting to publish even in national periodicals transforming the municipality in a provisional centre to school literary movement. He began, though in peril, to make active the children of political deportees (act strictly forbidden by regime). At the same time he was trying to publish criticism, translations by Russian and Italian, poetry, etc, and prepared a collection of stories, but in vain, there was no answer by publishers.
In 1985 dictator Hoxha died. His successor, Ramis Alia, realizing that "evil" would come from intellectuals, created a climate seemingly more lenient in dealing with writers and artists. No was transferred in Lushnje to teach in main high schools.
In 1987 finally succeeded to publish the poetry book "Blue Colts", but censored by regime immediately after publication and partly republished in 1988 with many torn pages of poems that should not be circulated.
The years 1989-1990 represent the political turning point of East Europe and mark the beginning of Nos most productive period. In 1990, he found the Party of Free Will (PFW) with other unsatisfied intellectuals. Understanding the proximity to the Democratic Party (DP) program (in its beginning the party of intellectual youth and students), No wanted to step in and included in the party with his supporters. (The main reason was economic failure of PFW.) Observing since the beginning, betrayal of ideas on which the DP was established, No and some other members left DP and went to strengthen the ranks of the newly born Republican Party (RP). No was elected member of the National Leadership Committee of RP in which he will become quickly a prominent personage and will influence resolving main problems as the election twice of the RP president, and elimination of pro-communist fraction inside the party. Simultaneously, No lead the party of Lushnje region (main container of the Republican Party) and dealt with organization of Republicans in other districts of the country.
In those years, besides politics, No was engaged in journalism. He found newspaper Ora e Fjales (Word Time) and influenced the image of another opposition newspaper, Republika. He wrote too many articles using different names. At the same time, the field of battle was not only to fight against communism dictatorship, but especially against new political monism represented by the "crypto-communist" party in power. Also, he was very active in denouncing the infiltration of organized crime in nomenclatures of the East Europe. At rallies and articles, No will say only the truth, risking his life and becoming prey to the court of Tirana, in April 1992.
With betrayed ideals and helpless to save himself and his family (his wife- a judge, and son), No was obligated to leave Albania and sought political asylum in Italy (in 1992, after the so-called "victory of democracy in the East", No's family was the only one in Italy that was given political asylum).
With interviews, articles, published books, and with speeches in streets and theaters, No was the first who gave the alarm for everything that was going on, and especially for the future of Albania, the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
In Italy, No has published The Reign of Prohibition (Dismisuratesti, 1995), To Applaud Caligula (Florence Book, 1997), With the Cross on Back to Galilee (Libroitaliano, 1999), Suicide of the Leaves, translations from Albanian into Italian of Ferdinand Laholli (Dismisuratesti, 1995), and Crowds Destiny, poetry of Hajdin Abazi, ( Dismisuratesti, 1996). No has translated selected poetry from many other Albanian authors as F.Haliti, V.Zhiti, J.Radi, etc. He also has translated from Italian into Albanian selected poetry from Pascoli, Pavese, Croce, Ungaretti, Quasimodo, Mestrovich, etc. A good part of his works is written in Italian and Albanian, and books are illustrated by the author himself (covers, murals, and photo poetry). Nos works have been translated in German, Swedish, English, Romanian, Spanish, and are published or sold in more than 70 countries, as in Italy, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, USA, India, Japan, Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, China, Russia, and some of the Arab countries. His verses are included in world anthologies in English and German. About No 's works have written major Italian and foreign newspapers as "Il Messaggero", "Il Tempo", "Dismisura", "Ciociaria oggi", "Gazzeta di Parma", "CIR-Notizie", "Alto Adige "," La Nazione "," Il Tirreno "," Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry "," Das Boot ", " Log "," Rustic Rub "," Parnassus of World Poets, and in the most bilingual magazines of Albanian diasporas in the world. His works are introduced by important personages of Italian literature and politics, from national leaders of Amnesty International in Rome, to Gianfranco Fini, etc. It is worth mentioning important interviews given occasionally in television channels of RAI, Mediaset, TVN, RTTR, GBR, etc. and echo made by them and the Italian national radio for the works and personality of No.

Attilio Bertolucci *
* Introduction of the book "To Applaud Caligula", Florence, 1997