f'kull belt hemm kantuniera
il-belt fl-immaginarju Malti
Kummenti dwar il-ktieb ta'
Poeziji, stejjer u artikli ta'
Clare Azzopardi • Stanley Borg • Norbert Bugeja • Priscilla Cassar • Bernard Cauchi • James Debono • Mark-Anthony Falzon • Claudia Fiorini • Maria Grech Ganado • Adrian Grima • Simone Inguanez
Tlaqna minn belt u l-miti tagħha u spiċċajna f’kantuniera ta’ belt oħra, jew ta’ l-istess belt forsi. Iltqajna kemm-il darba biex niktbu u naqsmu ma’ xulxin dak li ktibna. Il-vuċijiet differenti - irrabjati, iddisprati, ta’ dwejjaq, ironiċi, erotiċi, umoristiċi - wassluna f’kantuniera ta’ belt. F’belt kwalunkwe x’aktarx, imma fl-istess kantuniera - dik tas-solitudni.
Permezz tas-seħer u l-qdusija popolari xi nisa kienu jikkumpensaw għan-nuqqas ta’ poter u espressjoni f’soċjetà patrijarkali. Kemm is-saħħara u kemm il-mistika kienu jisfidaw il-monopolju tal-knisja fuq is-sagru u fil-komunità kienu r-rivali tal-kleru għax kienu jużaw il-poter tagħhom biex jaqdu l-ħtiġijiet tal-ġirien.
Illum il-kosmopolitaniżmu qed jinftiehem iktar bħala komunikazzjoni u mobilità milli bħala distakk minn kull irbit partikolari. Wara kollox, għaliex ċittadina tad-dinja m’għandhiex tkun ukoll membru ta’ tribù, jew villaġġ, jew nazzjon? Dan għandu jkun ovvju imma fil-fatt mhuwiex, għax l-identità Maltija ħafna drabi nitkellmu fuqha bħallikieku hija xi biċċa porċellana fina li inqas ma jmissuha idejn inqas hemm ċans li tinkiser.
F'Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera
pp.77 - ISBN 99932-620-3-0
I think, therefore iamb. Poetry
is for everyone; the trouble is that not everyone knows it yet. We should
tell them. Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions. It
relates to whatever gives immediate pleasure or pain to the human mind. To
say "I don't like poetry" is as crass as declaring that one doesn't like
novels, or that one has never seen a painting that pleased or challenged the
eye, or never heard a piece of music that engendered emotion, be it by
Beethoven or Moby, Bjork or upcoming composer Karl Fiorini.
The Times, 3rd May 2003
F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera. Il-Belt fl-Immaginarju Malti
[In every city there’s a corner. The city in the Maltese Imaginary]
Editor: Adrian Grima
Publisher: INizjamed, March, 2003
pp. vi + 78
Lm2.95 (7.5 euros)
Full Colour cover
195 x 195 mm
This publication in Maltese by Inizjamed is part of the organization’s “Bliet (u Miti)” [Cities (and Myths)] artistic project which started in January 2002. The idea of the project was to revisit the stereotypes that identify Malta with the traditional rural village and explore its cosmopolitan identity, especially in relation to its maritime cities of Birgu and Valletta. This rereading of the Maltese identity also demanded a reappraisal of the role of women in the Maltese imaginary.
The publication includes four articles, six poems and two stories. In my introduction, I try to trace the links between the different strands of the “Bliet (u Miti)” project. F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera marks the passage of the whole project from one which deals with cultural identity to one which focuses on the individual in the cosmopolitan city that has often been put aside in the shaping of the Maltese imaginary. My main point is that the authors represented in this collection of works are grappling with language, seeking to chart the unchartered territory they venture into.
Clare Azzopardi’s article charts the artistic journey of the women writers working within Inizjamed and their role in the whole project. She explains why, over the past year and a half, Inizjamed has organized a number of creative writing workshops for women only, and how these workshops have encouraged and trained a group of young women writers who may have otherwise refused to venture forward. Her short article is a testimony to these young women’s determination to reappropriate their story as individuals, as women and as Maltese, a story that has been hijacked by the patriarchy.
Mark-Anthony Falzon’s paper builds on a talk called “Can the Maltese Identity Be Cosmopolitan?” which he gave at an earlier stage of the project. His article asks whether the Maltese identity can incorporate within it the cosmopolitanism that has been with us at least since the time of the Knights. It also asks whether a citizen of the world can also be Maltese in the sense that s/he has an identity tied to a particular place and its story, and whether a Maltese citizen can be cosmopolitan without losing his or her Maltese identity? He concludes that what the Maltese need to explore is a new kind of cosmopolitanism that respects people’s culture while remaining open to the culture of others.
The other paper, by historian James Debono, is based on the main findings of his M.A. thesis, "Women, the Sacred and the Inquisition (1678-1710): A study on female religious perceptions, values and behaviour” to the rereading of the Maltese identity in terms of its cosmopolitan dimension. The central hypothesis of this dissertation is that the Catholic Reformation Church prescribed a new sort of behaviour for early modern women, that of the ‘devout wife’. Ideally women had to conform to both patriarchal and ecclesiastical hierarchies. In order to achieve this, the Church censored the activity of all those women who refused to submit to these hierarchies.
Much of the poetry and prose in this publication automatically revisits Maltese literature in order to breathe new life into it, as all good literature tends to do. The very process that allows authors to invent works of literature leads them inevitably to reinvent literature itself.
In many of these fascinating works, language naturally comes to the fore; in his Very Short Introduction to Literature, critic Jonathan Culler argues that “Literature is language that ‘foregrounds’ language itself: makes it strange, thrusts it at you – ‘Look, I’m language!’ – so you can’t forget that you are dealing with language shaped in odd ways.” And this is precisely what happens when we read the literary works that vie for our attention in this collection.
For a copy of the book F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera. Il-Belt fl-Immaginarju Malti, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +356 2137 6941.
http://www.babelmed.net: News from the publishers: 1-15th April
f’kull belt hemm kantuniera
Adrian Grima (ed.)
Inizjamed, Malta, 2003
Dal-ktejjeb tassew attraenti jiġbor fih xogħlijiet akkademiċi li ġew ippreżentati waqt forum pubbliku fil-Kavallier ta’ San Ġakbu f’Jannnar tas-sena 2003, kif ukoll xogħlijiet letterarji li xxandru għall-ewwel darba waqt r-rappreżentazzjoni f’kull belt hemm kantuniera (sic.) li saret fl-istess lok f’Marzu ta’ wara. Dawn iż-żewġ attivitajiet kienu organizzati mill-grupp Inizjamed bħala parti mill-proġett Bliet (u Miti). (Fir-ritratt: Mario Cassar)
Skond kif jgħid l-editur Adrian Grima fid-daħla tal-ktieb, dan il-proġett qed ifittex modi ġodda kif nistgħu naqraw l-istorja tagħna bħala poplu. F’das-sens il-belt (marittima) għandha tinftiehem bħala l-mikrokożmu tal-pajjiż kollu. Il-kunċett ta’ belt jista’ jgħinna nifhmu l-kompromess li jeħtieġ nistabbilixxu bejn il-kultura kożmopolitana, li kull moħħ miftuħ jixxennaq għaliha, u r-rispett lejn l-identità indiġena, li trid tibqa’ tfakkarna fl-għeruq tagħna. Il-belt tirrispekkja din it-tensjoni perfettament; qabelxejn hi port, u għalhekk miftuħa beraħ għall-kuntatti ma’ barra; iżda fl-istess ħin hi wkoll kontigwa mal-bqija tal-pajjiż li għadu b’xi mod iħaddan, b’gradi differenti, it-tradizzjonijiet u l-valuri ta’ missirijietna.
Mark Anthony Falzon, fis-saġġ tiegħu, jagħmel xi riflessjonijiet fuq dal-kunċett elusiv ta’ identità. Nafu li n-nazzjon Malti jeżisti iżda għadna ma nafux sewwasew x’inhu dak li jagħmilna Maltin. Falzon hawn jara sitwazzjoni Kafkeska. Nistgħu nkunu Maltin u fl-istess ħin ċittadini tad-dinja? Hawn min għadu jsostni li pajjiżna għadu essenzjalment raħal, ikkaratterizzat miċ-ċokon, ir-ruralità, u l-insularità. Jekk hu hekk il-metafora tal-belt nistgħu ninsewha. Iżda Malta, almenu f’dawn l-aħħar snin, żgur li rawmet paradimma alternattiva. It-tkattir tal-mezzi ta’ komunikazzjoni, it-twessigħ ta’ l-edukazzjoni, is-safar, it-turiżmu, it-taħlit etniku, u l-bqija ħolqu mentalità aktar spazjuża u arjuża. Falzon, b’mod għaqli, jissuġġerixxi li l-istess kożmopolitaniżmu għandu jkun is-sies tal-kultura nazzjonali. Wara kollox demmna u lsienna ilhom imħallta. Il-Malti hu sinteżi affaxxinanti ta’ diversi għejun lingwistiċi differenti, filwaqt li daqqa t’għajn lejn il-kunjomijiet lokali, mill-ewwel tgħinna nifhmu l-kostituzzjoni pluri-razzjali ta’ ġensna.
Fis-saġġ tiegħu, James Debono jiffoka fuq il-qagħda tan-nisa Maltin fi żmien l-Inkwiżizzjoni. In-nisa ġew sistematikament emarġinati fil-paġni ta’ l-istorja. Din hi waħda mill-akbar lakuni li għandna: Nafu min kienu missirijietna iżda ftit li xejn nafu min kienu ommijietna. In-nisa kienu mitluba jikkonformaw ma’ mudell riġidu – dak ta’ mara miżżewġa u omm devota, dejjem leali lejn żewġha. Il-mara kienet sempliċiment emissarja tal-Kurja għax f’darha kellha d-dmir trawwem lil uliedha fil-fidi u l-valuri Kristjani; mill-bqija ma kellha l-ebda poter soċjo-ekonomiku jew politiku. Barra dan iċ-ċirku kien hemm biss il-prostituti u s-sħaħar, għedewwa tas-santità taż-żwieġ u t-twemmin kanoniku. Il-maġġoranza tan-nisa li kienu jidhru quddiem it-Tribunal ta’ l-Inkwiżizzjoni kienu mill-inħawi tal-Port, jiġifieri mill-Belt Valletta u l-Kottonera. Hawn hi r-rabta, għalkemm xi ftit fraġli, mal-kultura tal-belt bħala l-mikrokożmu tal-pajjiż kollu.
L-emarġinazzjoni tan-nisa hi konspikwa wkoll fil-letteratura. Clare Azzopardi, fl-artiklu qasir “Felli, Felli”, tilmenta min-nuqqas ta’ kittieba femminili fl-istorja letterarja tagħna, iżda fl-istess ħin tifraħ bil-fjoritura apparenti ta’ awturi ġodda f’dawn l-aħħar snin. Jekk xejn, in-nisa, f’dal-ktieb huma rrappreżentati tajjeb.
L-impressjonijiet tal-ħajja beltija li jixirfu mill-poeżiji u x-xogħlijiet ta’ proża f’dil-ġabra huma mill-aktar melankoniċi, jekk mhux morbużi. Is-solitudni hi sovrana u d-delużjonijiet huma kotrana. Priscilla Cassar tiddeskrivi n-nies bħala “erwieħ”; “fuq is-swar il-bnadar jittewbu” (Stanley Borg); anki x-xita li taqa’ fuq il-belt hi griża (Claudia Fiorini). Il-qrusa u l-aljenazzjoni jaħkmu lill-protagonisti fin-novelli ta’ Bernard Cauchi (fir-ritratt) u ta’ Clare Azzopardi u Claudia Fiorini. Il-belt, wara kollox, mhi xejn għajr gaġġa oħra bħar-raħal ta’ Frans Sammut. Forsi l-aktar mument evokattiv f’dil-ġabra jitfaċċà fi tmiem il-poeżija Sqaq Nru 2 ta’ Maria Grech Ganado: “F’dil-belt, f’did-dar jiena xemgħa tinħall fil-ħolm ta’ ħaddieħor, kamra bla numru tinkera bis-siegħa”.
Jekk sa ntennu li l-belt hi mikrokożmu tal-pajjiż sħiħ, dak li jippreċipita minn dawn ix-xogħlijiet hu li mhux is-sens ta’ identità biss jinsab fi kriżi, iżda l-istess fibra soċjali tagħna. Tabilħaqq il-letteratura tibqa’ dejjem selettiva u enfatika, iżda dak li tagħżel u tenfasizza bilfors li hu relevanti u għandna nagħtu kasu.
Jekk hemm difett f’dal-ktieb hu n-nuqqas ta’ affinità ċara bejn ix-xogħlijiet akkademiċi u dawk letterarji. L-impressjoni ġenerali hi ta’ żewġ partijiet awtonimi b’xi ħjut irqaq bħala pont. Altrimenti jixhed sforz ġenwin sabiex jinstabu suriet alternattivi ta’ espressjoni u produzzjoni.
Dan l-artiklu deher fil-gazzetta In-Nazzjon tal-5 ta' Settembru, 2003
Riċensjoni ta' John Buttigieg
tissarraf fi kliem u l-kliem f’letteratura.
belt hemm kantuniera,
Pubblikazzjoni Inizjamed 2003
Ippubblikata f’L-Orizzont, 2003
I've read F'Kull Belt hemm kantuniera and reread parts of it, and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity, as a reader, to share the emotions of all the authors. You have all done a wonderful job, and it shows that there was a lot of work involved - although the sense of 'freedom' in the writings was not stifled. There seem to be no boundaries, there is fluidity and movement, and I can only imagine how much more emotive the whole experience was, when combined with the contemporary musical compositions. The words chosen, in both poetry and prose, seem 'just right'; but not artificially so. Sometimes (not this time), I get the feeling, when reading (both in English and Maltese), that there is something missing - the 'right word' somehow is not there; sometimes it is a matter of timing and rhythm, especially in poetry. Not enough pauses, not in the right place... There are times when I admire the author for writing 'a bit less', if you know what I mean, for being consciously understated, and more effective in the process. I felt this a lot when reading your book. Many of the writings are understated - you feel that the authors could have 'impressed more', but that is obviously not the intention. And the words chosen are mostly words used daily, in normal conversations - this makes the reader participate more, feel more, and eventually, respect the authors' choices. Each section transmitted a mood of its own. Special in its individuality.
Maybe I was preconditioned? Expecting a lot out of the book and therefore getting a lot out of it? I don't know. But, truthfully, I don't think so. It was an inspiring experience, whatever my expectations were. I would like to thank Adrian Grima for coordinating the project and the authors for their honesty, for their wholehearted participation in a process of creativity, for choosing to share their experiences in this way.
May you all continue working in this direction. Thank you.
Dr. Sonia Abela
25 January, 2004
Ktieb għall-Ħruq. Adrian Grima, editur. Inizjamed, 2005. 77pp. ISBN 99932-620-4-8
F’kull belt hemm kantuniera: il-belt fl-immaġinarju Malti. Adrian Grima, editur. Inizjamed, 2003. 77pp. ISBN 99932-620-3-0
Now seven years old, Inizjamed is a literary society that has already made a perceptible impact on our young authors and readers and is now coming more forcibly than before to the attention of older readers. Older authors like Victor Fenech and Maria Grech Ganado have already been associated with its activities, and the support and encouragement of organizations like the British Council in Malta and Unesco as well as small groups like Moviment Graffite and Ċentru Fidi u Ġustizzja have enabled Inizjamed to extend its literary work to a number of areas. As its leanings are mainly socialist and humanistic, many of its member authors, though not all, try to extend their interests well beyond personal relationships and their interior life.
Following in the footsteps of older authors like Oliver Friggieri, Joe Friggieri, Mario Azzopardi and Lillian Sciberras, they also go beyond our geographical limitations by creating contacts with foreign authors in Malta or away, one of their regular activities being participation in the international biennale organized by an international group of young European and Mediterranean artists.
Inizjamed’s leading light, Adrian Grima, is rapidly making a name for himself, and other young authors like Immanuel Mifsud and Ġuże Stagno have produced some striking and indeed ground-breaking work, while an older writer like Grech Ganado has now established herself as one of a small group of this country’s leading poets.
Grima has edited for Inizjamed a small volume of verse and prose bearing the title “Kitba għall-ħruq”, not perhaps a milestone work such as the now classic anthologies of the late Sixties and early Seventies pioneered by authors like Victor Fenech, but certainly one of which anyone having even a superficial interest in Maltese literature needs to take notice. In his introductory essay, Grima reminds us that while book-burnings such as the one ordered by the Inquisitor in Malta in 1609 (which included books by Rabelais as well as mathematical treatises) are a thing of the past, censorship of various sorts was experienced in Malta throughout the last century and is still not unknown today. In his concluding paragraph he says that some of the works in the present volume had fallen foul of institutions and publishers who disapproved of the “inconvenient” themes they try to explore.
The designers of the book cover has suggested simply but strongly the fate some writings can encounter in our own day.
The verse of authors such as Stanley Borg, Priscilla Cassar and Henry Holland has surely never been in danger of being banned or mutilated and Maria Grech Ganado’s two short poems (both also published in her recent volume of Maltese verse) too could also be given place in a mainstream anthology. Clare Azzopardi’s “Jien ix-xhud”, on the other hand, is stronger meat both in its vocabulary and in its “in yer face” attitude to the theme of a woman’s deep unhappiness in a dysfunctional marriage. Her suicide is brought in obliquely but strongly and Azzopardi’s comment on the rate of failures in contemporary Maltese marriages is bitter. The piece is not in verse but in what Victor Fenech has called “poeproza” and some of its imagery remains imprinted in the reader’s brain.
In “Ramallah” Adrian Grima uses, relatively speaking, a more traditional style, his theme being the humiliations and suffering of the Palestinian people in Israel, and is dedicated to a small number of Palestinian dancers whom Grima met when they performed in Malta. Much of the poem’s strength derives from its frequently elliptical style which often hints at indignation being kept under control.
Of the prose items, Immanuel Mifsud’s “Kumpanni tal-Ordni tal-Mertu” (also published in his recent collection “Kimika”) is amusingly satirical about media persons, some of whose models are easily recognizable, as well as about the society that regards such people so highly. Ġuże Stagno is not quite original when he sidepasses a bout of writer’s block by writing, quite amusingly, about his experience of what authors dread so much and his envy of fellow-authors who seem to be utterly free from it.
“Il-mutu” by Walid Nabhan (a name quite new to me) is an intriguing piece about the narrator’s obsession with a work-companion who seems to have no friends, does not say a word to anyone, and has a pair of green eyes that mesmerize him. He appears to be a deaf-mute until one day, a day of agitation and pain for this man, he utters one word, “Mietet.” The man remains mysterious, but the narrator now has a clue about his strange companion’s psyche. Is the author a native Maltese speaker? Perhaps not, as he uses words like “ġabbara” which is obsolescent, and on the other hand colloquialisms like “iħħajġakjani” which are clumsy. Nabhan appears to be a beginner who is certainly promising but needs to learn more about style.
“F’kull belt hemm kantuniera”, published two years ago, is more stimulating intellectually than “Ktieb għall-ħruq”. The volume’s theme is authors’ perception of the town and its publication formed part of Inizjamed’s Belt (u miti) project. Apart from some often arresting verse and prose by authors like Stanley Borg, Simone Inguanez, Bernard Cauchi and Clare Azzopardi, the volume includes a very thoughtful and original-minded paper by the young anthropologist Mark Anthony Falzon, “Xi riflessjonijiet fuq l-identità”, and another one, “Fejn hemm il-poter hemm ir-reżistenza: in-nisa fi żmien l-Inkwiżizzjoni” by James Debono who is a specialist on the history of the Inquisition in Malta.
Falzon tackes the theme of Maltese identity, one that has been discussed, often boringly or irritatingly at a dozen seminars or conferences, Very sensibly he feels that we do not “lose our identity” as some intellectuals fear; an identity is constantly evolving and changing, in any country or society. As to the fear that by becoming cosmopolitan we stop being Maltese, Falzon asks why it should be impossible to have more than one co-existing identities. After all, we see ourselves as both European and Mediterranean people, Maltese and also Valletta or Mosta people, Cottonera people and also Birgu or Senglea people.
Another perceptive comment by this writer refers to our perception of geographical space which is normally limited by the horizon around our small shores. This feeling of isolation is shattered whenever on a clear day we can see Mount Etma and the shores of Sicily, and we take a curious delight in any report in the media relating to a Maltese person, however minor, who has done something interesting, or to whom something unusual has happened, overseas. He also reminds us that those of our people who choose to speak in English rather than in Maltese are just as Maltese as the remainder: they have made a choice that seems sensible to them in the Maltese context. Some may not like this view, but it is a sensible one.
James Debono’s very readable paper makes a number of points, but the basic one is that in the 17th and 18th centuries Maltese women in the Inner Harbour area were asserting their identity by being economically self-supporting or by achieving neighbourhood fame as “wise women” (often called “sħaħar” or witches by the common people) or as “living saints” the phrase used by Cassar. The former were regarded as dangerous by the Church, while the latter appeared to be forming a close relationship with the supernatural independently of the Church, something the Church again did not approve of. As women have always been the most fervent members of the Church, the ecclesiastical authorities channelled the spiritual energies of women into becoming :devout women. “The Church used to emphasize women’s role as mothers who obeyed both their husband and their confessor. This was a time when devotions such as saying the rosary, wearing scapulars and possessing holy pictures became ever more popular. And in these devotions women found a new channel of expression.”
Adrian Grima’s introduction skillfully synthesizes the ideas in these two papers as well as the various literary items. Personally I found Stanley Borg’s “Bejn ħajja u mewt” with its portrait of people in a contemporary town, living a seemingly pointless life without the consolations of religion (“f’dan il-Ħadd ta’ żewġ gazzetti u bla quddies”) engrossing, a 21st century Maltese Mr Prufrock. Clare Azzopardi, whose “Felli, felli” gives a vivid account of the women writers’ movement within Inizjamed to explore language and create one that has not been imposed by men, joins up with Claudia Fiorini to write “Taħt l-inċirata”, a work in mixed verse and prose about an unhappy (three-cornered? I am not sure) relationship. Azzopardi’s narrative prose represents the young man, lustful but also genuinely in love, and is convincing enough in its psychological approach, whilst Fiorini’s verse is erotically lyrical. The atmosphere of this piece, like that of many of the other pieces in this volume, is , as one has come to expect today, not bubbling with the joys of love, but gloomy with unfulfilled expectations.
Bernard Cauchi’s “Kieku kont hi” is a long dramatic monologue written in grotesque mode. The speaker is Francesca, a woman from a rundown area of Valletta or some other town clearly several decades ago – her mother still wears an għonnella. Daughter of a prostitute, who surprisingly has a taste for the music of Brahms, she appears to be heading towards the same trade. The climactic scene is when the hugely fat Antoine erupts into her house and has sex with her, and she realizes all he wants is to have the money she has hidden in the house. The strange old house, the narrator’s unstable mental balance, and the comments of Francesca’s callous and malicious neighbours, create a phantasmagoric picture of life in an urban society that is sleazy and uncharitable.
The Sunday Times, 25 September, 2005
Dan il-ktieb ġie ppubblikat minn Inizjamed bil-kollaborazzjoni ta’ Holiday Malta u l-Proġett għar-Rijabilitazzjoni tal-Belt u l-Furjana, u bl-għajnuna tas-Segretarjat Parlamentari fil-Ministeru ta’ l-Edukazzjoni.
Għal aktar tagħrif ikteb lil email@example.com jew ċempel fuq 2137 6941 jew 7946 7952.