Sealines is a Literature Across Frontiers project supported

by the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union



Go to Turġien International Literary Festival - 14 Oct., Manoel Theatre Courtyard


Sealines Project Description Clare Azzopardi f'Riga Valletta Writer's Residency and Turġien (Steps) Project Mikko Rimminen Robert Minhinnick Laima Muktupavela Adrian Grima Literature Across Frontiers Valletta The Maltese Language Inizjamed

Sealines meeting in Galway


Valletta Sealines Writers’ Residency - Turġien (Steps) Project


Il-port minn Triq San Ġwann - 

Ritratt: Adrian Grima


Valletta is a fantastic city which is rich in history and culture. In many ways it is the cultural hub of Malta, but it is also a very quiet city after the shops close at 7.00pm. The population in 1901 is said to have been 24,685. Now it about 9,000 inhabitants. Like many cities it is divided into different quarters with their own characteristics. Inizjamed has already worked on the theme of the “city” in two previous projects: “Bliet u Miti” (Cities and myths) and “F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera” (There’s a corner in every city), which included the publication of two collections of academic papers, poems and short stories in Maltese inspired by the projects, a composition of contemporary classical music for six poetic texts, and works of visual art.


Our latest artistic project called “Turġien” (Steps) focuses specifically on Valletta and coincides with the Valletta Sealines Writers’ Residency. Writers and visual artists will be working together to produce a series of individual or collaborative works that will be presented at a Literary Encounter in Valletta during the Valletta Sealines Residency (13-14 October). We would like to invite the three Sealines guest writers from Wales, Latvia and Finland to participate in this festival too. We see this two-day event as an important opportunity not only for artists to present their work but also to meet other artists and possibly work together during the remaining ten days of the residency.


The image/theme of “steps” has been chosen as a point of reference or departure for the artists involved. Valletta is built on a ridge of rock (Mount Sceberras) which runs like a tongue into the middle of a bay, which it thus divides into two harbours, the Grand Harbour to the east and the Marsamuschetto to the west. Many of the streets that run parallel to Republic Street, which is the main street in Valletta, fall steeply as you get closer to the tip of the peninsula. They run along and across the ridge, and end on each side towards the water in steep flights of steps. The steps contribute towards the uniqueness of Valletta.” A website romantically, but rather insightfully observes that the steps of Valletta “reach deep into the hearts of the people and the country.” The Turġien/Steps project aims to tell those stories.


Writers in Residence



Flattijiet fuq Victoria Gate

Ritratt: Adrian Grima


Port cities have always played a crucial role in the cultural development of regions and countries. Gateways to the wider world and centres of trade and industry, they have attracted people from different backgrounds and facilitated the exchange of not only goods but also of ideas. The Sealines Project will link 6 European port cities with a tradition of literary bilingualism through a series of writers’ residencies to create a literary multimedia portrait of each city. The cities involved will be four capitals: Cardiff, Helsinki, Riga and Valetta, and two regional ports: Galway on the West Coast of Ireland and Koper (Capodistria) on the Slovenian coast.


The visiting authors will be given an opportunity to become acquainted with the local literary scene, as well as to explore a particular aspect of the city’s cultural, marine and economic history, for example through a residency co-sponsored by the port authority, a museum, or a major industry through which they will be able to find out about the port’s past and be in contact with its contemporary life.



The central theme of the project will be intercultural communication as the main impetus of cultural development and innovation, from the time of maritime voyages to today's electronically interconnected global village. Literary bilingualism will be taken as a paradigm of a potential for intercultural dialogue that is not always fully realized. The collaborative, cross-disciplinary nature of the project and its emphasis on an audiovisual or multimedia outcome acknowledges the importance of new technology and media in communication and cultural dissemination today and will make wider access to the outcomes of the project possible through distribution of the resulting publication and a documentary DVD.



The project has evolved from the successful week-long poetry translation workshops organised by Literature Across Frontiers in cooperation with festivals and book fairs where the resulting translations and original poetry were performed, sometimes with music. A larger-scale, exchange-based project aiming at creation of new multidisciplinary work and presenting literature through the audiovisual medium is the next step in this direction, allowing longer, sustained contact among the participating practitioners and giving the partner organisations a welcome first-time opportunity to cooperate on a large, innovative project experimenting with literature, other art forms and new technology, as opposed to the series of smaller-scale, self-contained projects they have co-organised so far.



The project aims to:

  • encourage the creation of new literary and multi-artfom work based on contact between different European cultures

  • explore the possibilities offered by new technology for creating and presenting works of literature through the audiovisual medium rather than through the traditional medium of the printed word

  • encourage translation between the languages of the participating countries

  • establish a new network of literary contacts between the participating countries


The project will be organised in cooperation with 6 main partners and associated partner organisations. Each country (with the exception of Ireland) will send out 3 writers and host the residency of 3 visiting authors, as well as involving local writers and possibly a media artist or film maker. (In some cases one person may take on more than one role in order to achieve a greater integrity and coherence, e.g. a visiting author may also be involved in the audio-visual element of the project.) The structure will create tri-partite relationships among the participating ports, ultimately interlinking all of them. Each host organisation will be responsible for the logistical organisation of the project in all its stages in its location, while Literature Across Frontiers will be responsible for the general coordination of the project.


Participants, their selection and brief

The project will involve “visiting authors”, some whom will be also involved as “host authors”, and a multi-media / audio-visual practitioner in each location who will be responsible for that aspect of the project. This role may be taken also by one of the participating writers, if they have the required experience. A call for proposals will invite prospective participants to submit a proposal which will require preparation and research on the candidate’s part, ensuring a serious commitment to the project. Initial selection will be made by each local coordinating organisation and final selection by LAF Sealines project committee. Writers with experience in cross-disciplinary or multimedia projects and with the required linguistic skills will be given priority in the selection process. While not all the authors necessarily have to be residents of the participating cities, at least one will be and this person will act as host to the visiting writers. At least one of the participating authors has to write in the minority/regional language of the country they are coming from and they have to be able to communicate in English, which will be the common language of the project.



The intangible outcome will be the experience of participating in a large-scale innovative literary project and the new contacts established between the literary scenes of the participating countries and the practitioners involved in the project. The tangible outcome will be the newly created work presented multilingually in performance, through audiovisual medium and on CD and DVD. The multimedia or audio-visual aspect will be developed by the local organisers and may vary from location to location. A common thread may be agreed on, e.g. raw audio-visual documentation material to be produced in each location and brought together in a format such as a documentary film, audio-CD and/or a publication. Negotiations with a TV production company are underway and a publication, e.g. with a CD will also be a likely product of this project,


Target groups

Two main groups are targeted by the project: the practitioners who will be involved directly and indirectly, and who will benefit by being given the opportunity to create new work in the framework of a structured project and in response to engagement with other European cultural and social environments, as well as by extending their network of international literary contacts. The second target group is the general public (and especially the younger generation) in the 6 participating port cities, who will attend the resulting performances and/or view the created audio-visual work.


Literature Across Frontiers




Sant'Anġlu minn San Ġwann

Ritratt: Adrian Grima


Malta’s capital city called the City of Knights dates from the 16th century. Valletta and its suburb town of Floriana are perched on the steep Sciberras peninsula jutting out into Malta's two deep natural harbours, Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. Valletta is the Islands' fortress city. it is known as the 'city built by gentlemen for gentlemen' ; a 16th century architectural masterpiece.

Although its many titles recall its rich historical past, Valletta is very much a working, capital city; a bustling cultural centre and the administrative and commercial heart of the Islands. The bastions of this fortress city rank among the world's greatest examples of military engineering. Valletta is also regarded as a unique example of baroque architecture. Its grid of narrow streets house some of Europe's finest churches, palaces and cultural treasures.

Floriana lies within Valletta's landward fortifications which extend to the Portes des Bombes on the main approach road. This suburb town has fine examples of patricians' houses and 17th century wharf buildings as well as several gardens laid out in the time of the Knights.

Today, the city of Valletta has about 9,000 inhabitants, but it continues to play a major role as a commercial and financial centre, as well as being Malta's Capital City, the smallest Capital of the European Union. Detailed information and maps of Valletta here:


The Maltese Language


Maltese is a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is the national language of Malta, and an official language of the European Union. It is derived from, and most closely related to, Arabic. Apart from its phonology, Maltese bears considerable similarity to urban varieties of Tunisian Arabic. Maltese also shares similarities with other North African Arabic dialects; however in the course of Malta's history, the language has adopted many loanwords, and even phonetic and phonological features, from Southern Italian, Sicilian, and English.

Maltese is the only Semitic language written in the Latin alphabet in its standard form. It is also the only Semitic language native to a geopolitically European country, although, geophysically, Malta is generally regarded as forming part of the African continental plate.

Maltese became an official language of Malta in 1936, alongside English. Before that year, the official language of Malta was Italian. Today, there are an estimated 371,900 Maltese speakers. There are a significant number of Maltese expatriates in Australia, the United States and Canada who can still speak the language.

The oldest known document in Maltese is "Il Cantilena," a poem from the 15th century written by Pietro Caxaro. For centuries, Maltese was nearly exclusively a spoken language, while people wrote in Arabic or, later, in Latin and Italian.

Maltese is used in most sectors of public life, including parliament, the church, the press and other media, and in general conversation. For more information about Maltese go to this excellent page.




Inizjamed is a voluntary non-governmental cultural organization founded in 1998 in Malta that is committed towards the regeneration of culture and artistic expression in the Maltese Islands and actively promotes a greater awareness of the cultures of the Mediterranean. Inizjamed is a secular, non-partisan organization that acknowledges that every generation must seek to create its own language and both respond to realities of its day and look beyond them.


Inizjamed is a project-based organization whose lean internal structure reflects its emphasis on concrete action and fruitful collaboration with all those with whom it shares common goals. Inizjamed believes that cooperation and partnership are far more effective in the longterm than competition.


Since it was set up by a group of young men and women involved in different fields, Inizjamed has established strong partnerships with organizations and individuals both in Malta and in other countries. Inizjamed is


Since it was founded in 1998, Inizjamed has been nominated three times for the Youth in Society prize awarded by the Government of Malta for the work it carried out in 1999, 2000 and 2003.. I has also run major projects funded by the European Union, the British Council, the University of Malta, and UNESCO.


The main activities of Inizjamed are the following:

  • literary encounters and performances mainly for emerging Maltese writers working in collaboration with artists from other fields

  • community arts projects

  • workshops led by internationally-renowned foreign authors

  • publication of Maltese literature in the original and in translation

  • training courses

  • long-term projects for young European volunteers

  • participates in international arts festivals and seminars about culture and the arts

  • works closely with other Maltese and foreign organizations


To contact Inizjamed write to For detailed information visit


Clare Azzopardi f'Sealines - Mawra ta' Kitba f'Riga


Matul ix-xahar ta' Awwissu 2006, il-kittieba Clare Azzopardi kienet fil-belt ta' Riga fil-Latvja għal mawra ta' kitba bħala parti mill-proġett internazzjonali Sealines fi ħdan Literature Across Frontiers. Is-sehem ta' Malta f'dan il-proġett huwa kkoordinat minn Inizjamed. Il-bliet li qed jieħdu sehem f'Sealines huma l-Belt Valletta, Cardiff, Galway, Ħelsinki, Koper, u Riga. Matul din il-mawra ta' kitba, li fiha ħadu sehem ukoll kittieba mill-Irlanda u Wales, kien hemm laqgħa ta' l-imsieħba kollha f'dan il-proġett. L-organizzazzjoni msieħba f'dan il-proġett min-naħa tal-Latvja hija ċ-Ċentru tal-Letteratura tal-Latvja (Latvian Literature Centre). [Ara r-rapport ta' Clare Azzopardi] 



Sealines Meeting in Galway - April 2006




Alexandra Büchler, Director, Literature Across Frontiers, invited Adrian Grima, coordinator of the Sealines project in Malta for Inizjamed, to attend a meeting held in the city of Galway in the west of Ireland on 28-29 April 2006 to coincide with the 21st edition of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature organized by the Galway Arts Centre (which was established in 1982).


Cúirt 21. The Cúirt Annual 2006 (Galway: Arlen House, 2006) published a story by Clare Azzopardi, The Green Line, translated from Maltese ("Il-Linja l-Ħadra") by Albert Gatt. Other contributors to this prestigious publication included, amongst others, John F. Deane, Seamus Heaney, Michael Massey, P D Lyons, Choman Hardi, Maram al-Massri, Zoe Wicomb, and Eoin Colfer.


The Festival programme gave prominence to the LAF Sealines project: "This year sees the beginning of the Sealines project, an ambitious pan-European network of writers’ residencies designed to make literary links between six bilingual port cities across Europe: Helsinki, Riga, Cardiff, Valletta, Koper and Galway. We are delighted to be the Irish partner of both Riga and Koper in this project and welcome all those involved to the 2006 festival."


"Sealines aims to establish links between the different European cities and cultures through literature and translation. Participants will explore the possibilities offered by new technology for creating and presenting works of literature through the audiovisual medium rather than through the traditional medium of the printed word. The residencies in Galway will take place in April 2006 and an Irish writer will spend a month in Riga and Koper later in the year. The Latvian, Slovenian and Irish participants will all meet during the festival. The authors will return to the festival in April 2007 to share the results of residencies with the Cúirt audience."


Some of the writers who read their work during this edition were Maram al-Massri, John F Deane, DBC Pierre, Willy Vlautin, Lionel Shriver, Zoe Wicomb, Nikki Giovanni, Seamus Heaney, John McGahern, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Eoin Colfer, Walter Mosley and Chuck Palahniuk. One of the Cúirt Debates dealt with the theme, “Freedom of speech:a right or a weapon?” Speakers were Mona Eltahawy,Yosri Fouda, Antoin Mac Unfraidh, Lara Marlowe,Dunya Mikhail and Prof John Horgan (chair).