Millosh Gjergj Nikolla was an Albanian poet and writer. He is better known under his pen name Migjeni. He was born in Shkodër, Albania (then Ottoman Empire) in 1911, into a family of Serbo-Croatian-speakers. His father, Gjeorgje Nikolic (alb. Gjergj Nikolla; 1872–1924), came from an Orthodox family of Slavic origin and owned a bar in Shkodër. Millosh's father was a very respected member of the community. Notably he was chosen among the orthodox community of the city to represent Shkodër in the Berat Congress in 1922 (where the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania was proclaimed independent by Fan Noli). Millosh Gjergj Nikolla had married Sofia Kokoshi (Migjeni's mother) in 1900. She died in 1916 leaving behind six children (two boys and four daughters). Like her husband, Sofia Kokoshi also enjoyed a good reputation among the city's community. She had been educated at the catholic seminary of Shkodra, run by Italian nuns.
The surname Nikolla (originally Nikolić) derived from his grandfather Nikolla Dibrani (d. 1876) who hailed from the region of Reka (present-day Republic of Macedonia) and was a member of the tiny Albanian Orthodox community in the region (the same community that gave birth to another Albanian poet, Josif Jovan Begeri). Nikolla left the region during the late 19th century and moved to Shkodra where he practiced the trade of a bricklayer and later married Stake Milani, from Kuči, Montenegro, with whom he had two sons: Gjergj (Migjeni's father) and Krsto. Among the six children, Millosh and his youngest sister, Ollga, were the only ones in the family to attend the Serbian elementary school in Shkodra. From 1923 to 1925, Millosh was enrolled at a secondary school in Bar (Tivar) on the Montenegrin coast, where his eldest sister, Lenka, had moved.
In the autumn of 1925, the 14 years old Millosh obtained a scholarship to attend a secondary school in Monastir (Bitola), Macedonia. In Monastir he studied Old Church Slavonic, Russian, Greek, Latin and French. He graduated in 1927, and at the same year, he entered the Orthodox Seminary of St. John the Theologian, also in Monastir, where, despite incipient health problems, he continued his training and studies until June 1932. On 23 April 1933, he was appointed teacher of Albanian at a school in village of Vraka, seven kilometres from Shkodra. It was during this period that he also began writing prose sketches and verse that reflected the life and anguish of an intellectual.
In May 1934 his first short prose piece, Sokrat i vuejtun apo derr i kënaqun (Suffering Socrates or the satisfied pig), was published in the periodical Illyria, under his new pen name Migjeni, an acronym of Millosh Gjergj Nikolla. Soon though, in the summer of 1935, the twenty-three-year-old Migjeni fell seriously ill with tuberculosis, which he had contracted earlier. He journeyed to Athens, Greece in July of that year in hope of obtaining treatment for the disease which was endemic on the marshy coastal plains of Albania at the time, but returned to Shkodra a month later with no improvement in his condition. In the autumn of 1935, he transferred for a year to a school in Shkodra itself and, again in the periodical Illyria, began publishing his first epoch-making poems.
In a letter of 12 January 1936 written to translator Skënder Luarasi (1900–1982) in Tirana, Migjeni announced, "I am about to send my songs to press. Since, while you were here, you promised that you would take charge of speaking to some publisher, 'Gutemberg' for instance, I would now like to remind you of this promise, informing you that I am ready." Two days later, Migjeni received the transfer he had earlier requested to the mountain village of Puka and on 18 April 1936 began his activities as the headmaster of the run-down school there.
The clear mountain air did him some good, but the poverty and misery of the mountain people in and around Puka were even more overwhelming than that which he had