All the writers who
have taken part in the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival:
(Malta), Norbert Bugeja (Malta),
(Malta), Christos Chryssopoulos (Greece),
Valerio Cruciani (Italy),
Mohammed El Amraoui (France),
Hassan el Ouazzani (Morocco),
Victor Fenech (Malta),
Claudia Gauci (Malta),
Polona Glavan (Slovenia),
Maria Grech Ganado
Niall Griffiths (Wales),
Biagio Guerrera (Sicily),
Simone Inguanez (Malta),
Daniel Jonas (Portugal),
Valter Hugo Mãe
Pierre J. Mejlak
Valda Berzina Melgalve (Latvia),
Caldon Mercieca (Malta),
Biel Mesquida (Catalonia), Immanuel Mifsud
Robert Minhinnick (Wales),
Samira Negrouche (Algeria), Marta Pessarrodona
(Catalonia), Jordi Punti (Catalonia),
Youssef Rakha (Egypt),
Suzan Sahori (Palestine),
Aki Salmela (Finland),
İpek Seyalıoğlu (Turkey),
Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson (Iceland),
Ġużè Stagno (Malta),
Roman Simić (Croatia), Alex Vella Gera
Hyam Yared (Lebanon)
Mediterranju tal-Letteratura ta’ Malta huwa opportunità biex awturi minn
bnadi differenti tal-Mediterran u lilhinn jiltaqgħu fi spazju kreattiv kemm
għalihom bħala artisti kif ukoll għall-pubbliku li jiġi biex jaqsam
l-esperjenza letterarja magħhom.
l-letteratura hija mument ta’ inkontru u skontru, ta’ konferma u sfida.
F’dan il-Festival il-kittieba joffru esperjenza artistika li tqanqal u
tisfida l-konċezzjoni u l-esperjenza tagħna tal-ħajja u tad-dinja. Permezz
tal-kliem u s-silenzji, tad-deklamazzjoni u n-nofs diskors, il-kittieba
jillivaw bibien magħluqa, jixkfu wesgħat li ma nobsrux li jistgħu jeżistu.
niffukaw fuq il-Mediterran, għax minkejja li ninsabu fil-qalba ġeografika u
kulturali tiegħu, aħna l-Maltin warrabnieh mill-aspirazzjonijiet tagħna.
Għażilna l-Mediterran għax fih hemm enerġija kreattiva straordinarja li waqt
li tisfida l-isterjotipi li akkumulajna matul iż-żmien dwar ir-reġjun
tagħna, għandha l-ħila tispira l-kreattività fina. Għażilna l-Mediterran
għax f’dak li qed joffri u jiffaċċja, minn kriżijiet umani, kulturali u
ambjentali, sa proġetti bi sħab bejn komunitajiet differenti li qed joffru
soluzzjonijiet u alternattivi sostenibbli, hemm ħjiel ta’ dan li qed iseħħ
fuq livell globali.
tal-Festival Mediterranju tal-Letteratura ta’ Malta nipproponu esperjenza
artistika u umana mnebbħa mill-kelma. Imma nfittxu wkoll forom oħrajn
tal-arti, bħall-mużika u l-film, biex iqanqlu u jisfidaw il-letteratura.
hekk, nixtiequ li l-Festival ikun punt ta’ riferiment dwar il-letteratura
kontemporanja Maltija, kemm għall-pubbliku Malti kif ukoll għal dawk,
fil-Mediterran u lilhinn, li jridu jesperjenzaw il-letteratura tagħna.
ta' traduzzjoni organizzat minn LAF/Inizjamed kien esperjenza ġdida u unika
għalija. Ħdimna qatigħ flimkien bħala grupp, bir-riżultat li fl-aħħar ta'
ġimgħa ta' ħidma traduttiva intensiva, irnexxielna naqilbu poeżiji sħaħ
għall-Malti, l-Ingliż, il-Portugiż, it-Taljan, l-Għarbi u l-Franċiż -
fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom xogħlijiet li jilħqu l-ogħla qċaċet tal-kitba ta'
versi f'dak li jirrigwarda metrika, stil, xbihat, tematika, ritmi u
strutturi. Iżda l-workshop fisser għalija ħafna aktar minn sempliċi ġimħa
ta' ħidma traduttorja intensiva: kelli l-opportunità li għal ġimgħa sħiħa
nirrelata ma' poeti u kittieba professjonali daqskieku kienu l-familja
tiegħi stess: qsamna flimkien mhux biss ix-xogħlijiet tagħna, iżda wkoll
ħafna esperjenzi ibsin, sbieħ, ewforiċi, kattivi, waħdiena, esperjenzi ta'
kulturi u modi ta' għixien oħra li għaddejna minnhom f'ħajjitna u li jinsabu
hemmhekk, bħal lava tbaqbaq taħt il-wiċċ fraġli tal-kelmiet li jiffurmaw
il-poeżija. Nixtieq biss li l-workshop seta' dam ġimgħatejn, tlieta, minflok
ġimgħa biss. Iżda l-ħajja trid tkompli, u l-poeżija trid tkompli tinkiteb!
The translation workshop brought together by LAF/Inizjamed was for me a
novel and unique experience altogether. As a group of writers, we worked
hard, in such a way that after an entire week of intensive translating, we
have managed to translate entire poems into Maltese, English, Portuguese,
Italian, Arabic and French. Many of these poems span the highest echelons of
creative writing, in terms of style, prosody, structure, rhythm, imagery and
thematics. This workshop, however, meant even more to me than a mere week of
hard work: this was a unique opportunity to relate to professional writers
and poems as I relate to my own family: together, we've not only shared our
work, but all of those many, tough, euphoric, cruel, unique, wondrous
experiences, cultures and ways of life we've been through. These experiences
are constantly there, like pockets of smouldering lava beneath the fragile
surface of the words that shape our writing. I only wish the workshop lasted
longer, perhaps another week, or two. But then, real life also has to be
lived, and poetry written! (16.9.10)
il-festival huwa inkontru interessanti ta’ kittieba minn inħawi differenti
tal-Mediterran: kittieba mill-periferija Ewropea jiltaqgħu ma’ oħrajn
mit-tarf ta’ fuq tal-Afrika, mit-Turkija u l-Lvant Nofsani. Testi politiċi,
oħrajn filosofiċi, u oħrajn ta’ xeħta intellettwali jitħalltu flimkien biex
jagħtu tiżwiqa kkulurita daqs l-ilwien ‘tipiċi’ Mediterranji. Il-festival
joffri titwila lejn il-Mediterran, lejn il-Mediterran tal-lum li mhux
bilfors huwa dak li jidher bid-dgħajjes koħol jgħumu fil-wiċċ u lanqas m’hu
bilfors dak tax-xemx titbissem hienja.
li kulħadd se jibda jistenna minn sena għal sena.
The festival that everyone will begin to anticipate, year in year out.
second edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival was a dynamic,
multilingual occasion, with poets, novelists and musicians blending their
talents over two wonderful evenings. Held in the historic and atmospheric
surroundings of Couvre Porte in Birgu, successive audiences were treated to
new writing from authors drawn from all over the Mediterranean. What was
especially pleasing was that Maltese writers performed so well and held
their own against international competition.
The festival, I believe, was a great
success. Certainly the large audiences prove there is an appetite for such
an ambitious artistic festival in Malta.
Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival was what all literary festivals can
aspire to be: a generous, multicolour display of fragments which together
make up one of many possible kaleidoscopes, offered not in the
claustrophobia of a closed cylinder but blown out into the open air for all
to see. The exhibit of literary calibre from multiple corners of the
Mediterranean and beyond is only half the story, yet at the same time an
invitation to experience the other half – intrinsically tied within the
aesthetic orchestration of language in Arabic, Catalan, English, Italian,
Maltese and Turkish was the personal, philosophical and necessarily
political expression out to shift and nail the audience, and then let them
free again to continue their reflection on all they heard.
e Mediterraneo, piccola e straordinaria Torre di Babele, sono strettamente
legati, reciprocamente necessari. L'esercizio della traduzione è vitale per
la circolazione delle idee, e se questo esercizio è unito allo scambio tra
traduttore e autore e alla diffusione di opere nuove, fresche, si può forse
sperare ancora nell'irruzione di qualcosa di violentemente vero nella vita
di questo piccolo ma infinito bacino, che è poco più di un grosso lago
Listening to the polyphony of
Mediterranean languages mingled with the rhythms of the Zizza Ensemble and
surrounded by the majestic bastions of Birgu’s Couvre Porte under a starlit
sky, is a veritable experience in relaxation and stress abatement.
Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival is one of its kind. It's such a
lively atmosphere in which poetry, prose and music come together. Different
voices become one for a moment in all its integrity and then disperse again
like the colors of the earth the next moment.
such a unique experience that I don't think I can ever forget it.
is the fourth summer that I’ve spent in Edinburgh. Hopping from one theatre
to the next; from the Traverse to the Assembly to the Pleasance, from the
Jazz Bar to the book tent in Charlotte Square, still immersed in the last
theatrical performance and yet thinking of the next one starting in ten
minutes. This is Edinburgh, the city of festivals, the Unesco City of
Edinburgh Book Festival
This year I was lucky enough to get
tickets for Hanif Kureishi and Chuck Palhaniuk, Michael Morpurgo and Terry
Pratchett but no, not for Salman Rushdie. A pity! As for plays, I’ve seen
some of the best new writing performances by Enda Walsh (last year’s superb
The Wallworth Farce and this year’s The New Electric Ballroom) and Zinnie
Harris (Fall). The magnificant stage version of On the Waterfront directed
by Steven Berkoff, the harsh and appalling fragments of Sarah Kane’s 4.48
Psychosis, and how can I ever forget the wonderful Jidariyya by Mahmoud
Darwish, adapted for the stage by the Palestinian National Theatre Company.
From the Jazz Festival to the
Fringe, the Edinburgh Festival to the Book Festival, I felt like a yo-yo day
in day out, completely dead by the late evening. This is the summer I wait
for year after a year.
Our small rock is still not renowned
for its festivals, though it has begun to feature at the bottom of the
Eurovision Song Contest ranks with depressing regularity – oh yes, please by
all means, we are really good at this – but festivals are a different story.
The long lost Jazz Festival, no longer being taken care of by Charles City
Gatt, has lost all it’s jazz and all its vim too. It was once a good Jazz
Festival. It was a tradition, an eagerly awaited date, but not anymore. At
least, it’s no longer the Jazz Festival I remember. And we still haven’t
fostered any other tradition with regard to festivals. I remember Vers
for instance, the one-off International Poetry Festival organised by the
Arts Council, and the one-off International Short Story Festival, organised
by Il-Kunsill tal-Malti … What a pity!
Malta Mediterranean Literature
Having one-off festivals is like
opening a Chateau Neuf Du Pape and taking just a sip, only to let it stand
on the sideboard to lose its taste and vigour, to be looked at and
remembered for that one sip which felt like poetry, a shameful waste when
you can enjoy a full glass and yet another glass and yet another bottle for
the year to come, perhaps even two. Will we ever be able to refer to Malta
as the tiny island of festivals? How I wish I could yo-yo myself from the
poetry festival to the short story festival to the book festival to the jazz
festival … (oops we have the beer festival! I almost forgot!) Oh Clare
please give us a break! I know you are reading this and saying these exact
words, I’ve been moaning about the same things over and over again for quite
some time now. Right you are.
But hold it! This time I won’t get
carried away by my pessimism. For indeed, this is the first time in my life
that there is something I am waiting for: the Malta Mediterranean Literature
Festival, organised for the third time running, a true literature festival
which seems to have taken root in our arid soil. The first time, it was held
at St James Cavalier, with authors like Jordi Punti (whom I met in Frankfurt
for the literary festival earlier this year), Aki Salmela, Roman Simic and
the late Valda Melgave. Last year we invited Biel Mesquida, Samira
Negrouche, Valerio Cruciani and Ipek Seyalioglu.
Like last year, this year’s edition
of this unique literature festival will be held at Couvre Porte in Birgu.
The invited poets and short story writers are Chris Chryssopoulos (Greece),
Hassan el Ouazzani (Morocco), Polona Glavan (Slovenia), Paola Turroni
(Italy), Suzan Sahori (Palestine) and Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdson (Iceland).
The Maltese writers taking part are Claudia Gauci, Simone Inguanez, Caldon
Mercieca and Karl Schembri. And accompanying the authors in their readings
on Saturday night there will be the Maltese Funk Band Zizza Ensemble. So jot
it down in your diary: Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th
September, 2008. The readings start at 8.00pm and entrance to all events is
free. Each evening will feature three different writers.
This Festival is organized by the
voluntary cultural organisation Inizjamed and Literature Across Frontiers in
collaboration with the Birgu Local Council and with support from the Malta
Tourism Authority, the National Book Centre of Greece, the Icelandic
Literature Fund, the FIVE project for intercultural dialogue and Koperattiva
Kummerċ Ġust. It coincides with a one-week residential literary translation
workshop held in Malta in which the writers will translate each other’s
works. Alexandra Büchler, professional translator and director of Literature
Across Frontiers, will be in charge of the workshop.
And now something about the writers:
Christos Chryssopoulos (1968) is a
novelist, essayist and translator. He is among the most prolific young prose
writers on the Greek literary scene and has been featured in many
anthologies of contemporary Greek fiction. Claudia Gauci’s (1976) poetry has
been published in F'Kull Belt hemm Kantuniera (Inizjamed, 2003),
Ktieb għall-Ħruq (Inizjamed, 2005) and The Drunken Boat (USA). In
2005 she read her poetry in Naples. In her writings, which are part
journalistic, part literary, the Palestinian writer and activist Suzan
Sahori from Bethlehem documents the everyday lives of the people living
under Israeli Occupation. She chooses to focus on the misery of common
people rather than on the politics and history that have brought about that
Polona Glavan’s (1974) debut novel
Noč v Evropi, (A Night in Europe) describes one of her many journeys,
an Inter-Rail trip through Europe. By contrast, in her second book, a
collection of stories titled Gverilci, she entered the ranks of
socially engaged writers, taking leave of minimalism and tackling a kind of
writing that is both socially critical and warmly humorous.
Simone Inguanez (1971) has published two
collections of poetry, ftit mara ftit tifla (Klabb Kotba Maltin,
2005) and fire, water, earth and i, and has read her work in Lodève,
Naples, the USA, Riga (Latvia), Budapest and Lecce. Caldon Mercieca (1976)
is co-founder of awl, a small independent publishing house
specialising in contemporary Maltese poetry, with which he has released two
poetry publications, Mogħlint (2002) and Majorkini (2003). He
is currently finishing a cycle of writings based on etchings by symbolist
Belgian artist Felicien Rops.
Also performing on Friday is writer
and singer songwriter Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdson (1955), who was born and
brought up in Húsavík, north Iceland. Since 1977 he has published 12 books
of poetry and translated poetry, one novel and 10 children´s books. Apart
from the books he has produced many recordings of his lyrics and songs.
Sigurdsson lives in Reykjavík as a full-time writer, songwriter and
publisher of music and literature.
Hassan El Ouazzani (1970) is one of
Morocco’s most important young poets. He belongs to the generation of poets
who has effected a postmodern paradigm shift in the poetry scene in Morocco.
Of him German poet Tobias Burghardt has written: “The poet, whose presence
was noted at the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia, uses paradox to
create a coherent poetic system.”
(1978) has written a collection of short stories, Taħt il-Kappa tax-Xemx
(2002) and a novel, Il-Manifest tal-Killer (2006), which will be
presented as a theatre production in October. His first poems appeared in
the anthology, Frekwenzi ta’ Spirti fis-Sakra.
Another performer on Saturday will be Paola Turroni
(1971), who was born in Monza, Italy, where she studied the classics until
she started to roam, to change lives and cities, for study and for the fun
of it, until she settled in Luino on the Lago Maggiore. She holds cinema,
communication and theatre workshops. She has collaborated, amongst others
with Rai Radiodue and has published books of poetry and short stories.
Don’t tell me it’s not worth waiting
for! Don’t tell me that the prospect of so much new writing and literature,
so many new voices is not mouth-watering. It is for me. Even after an
overdose of it in Edinburgh. For more information about this Literature
Festival and the LAF International Literary Translation Workshop visit
Glen Calleja interviews Adrian Grima
What is the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival about?
It's about contemporary literature
and how writers today are articulating their own experiences and those of
people around them. It's about how writers, especially in the
Mediterranean, are grappling with a literary language that continually needs
invention and re-invention, that continually faces failures and successes in
trying to communicate, or rather share, life's experiences.
This festival is about intercultural
dialogue - after all, Inizjamed was chosen as one of the Maltese ambassadors
of intercultural dialogue for 2008.
It's about meeting and being
together in the Mediterranean, listening to one another, inspiring and being
inspired, shocking others and being shocked by others, articulating the
stories that don't get told in an increasingly superficial and cliche-driven
Malta Mediterranean Literature
Festival is about saying the unsaid and trying to say the "unsayable."
What makes it Mediterranean?
What makes it Mediterranean is
the location, an ancient maritime port in a splendid, reinvigorated city in
a thriving island nation in the centre of this Basin. To us, what makes it
Mediterranean is the stories of many of the writers who are invited to take
part in it, their own personal story and the stories they tell. But also our
idea of the Mediterranean not only as a mosaic, or polyphony, as Thierry
Fabre calls it, but also as a devenir, a project or work in
progress, a success that has the potential to become a failure, a failure
that has the potential to become a success: a meeting point of different
stories and experiences of the world, a common ground for debate, for
disagreement, for affinity, for tragedy in the depths of the blue seas, a
common ground for solidarity.
It's a Mediterranean
Festival because it sees our region also as a microcosm of the world, with
its richness and diversity, with its creativity and perseverance, with its
openness and joie de vivre. It's a Mediterranean festival
because it's a babel-like courtyard of languages from the region but also
from beyond, a point of reference but also a point of arrival and a point of
departure. Together with the new wave of poets and short story writers from
Malta we've had writers from Algeria, Catalonia, Croatia, Greece, Italy,
Morocco, Palestine, Slovenia, and Turkey, but also Finland, Iceland, Latvia,
That's already quite a list. And
before we're finished with this edition, we're already thinking of the next.
What is the aim/purpose of the festival: is it to promote Malta? is it to
promote Maltese literature and writers? is it to promote literature among
Yes, the Malta Mediterranean
Literature Festival aims to promote Maltese literature and
Maltese writers both in Malta and abroad. And we feel that one way of doing
that is by seeing ourselves as writers of the
Mediterranean, living in and often grappling with the Mediterranean.
We believe that promoting this
regional dimension is one way of generating interest in our literature in a
world in which everyone is doing their level best to draw attention to their
works, to their writers. The authorities in Malta, as you know, are doing
nothing of the sort: we are practically the only country in the EU without a
policy for the promotion of our literature, the only country with no funds
allocated specifically to the development and promotion of Maltese
We are the only country in the EU
with NO funds for translating foreign works of literature into Maltese and
Maltese literature into other languages. More than one million two hundred
thousand tourists visit Malta every year and we have almost nothing in terms
of our literature translated into their languages to offer them. Not even in
English! It's a bad joke. Maltese writers are constantly being invited
abroad and there are no funds for them to get their work translated.
We are doing our bit as writers and
cultural activists: but we expect our government to do what every other
government in the EU and beyond (as in Iceland for example, a country with a
population smaller than ours) has been doing for a very long time. And we do
not accept the excuse that funds are not available. Because if Inizjamed,
with its limited resources of volunteers and a pitiful balance in its bank
account, can organize these international projects year after year, then I
don't see why government cannot support all those involved in literature,
the publishing industry and the creative industries to do so much more.
The festival's participants are mostly young writers: is this a political
Well, yes, I suppose it is. But the
accent should be on "mostly," because we've had very
well-established Maltese and foreign writers taking part in this festival.
The Festival is intimately tied to
the Malta LAF Literary Translation Workshop, with writers living together
for a week and translating each other's works. This somehow conditions (I
wouldn't say limits, because it's not a negative limitation) our choice of
writers: not all writers are available or ready to spend a week with other
writers translating their work and discussing their own work with those who
are translating it.
Most of those who do choose
to make this experience find it extremely rewarding - and some Maltese
writers have also started to do this abroad (Simone Inguanez was in Latvia
for a translation workshop in July and I was in Algeria for the same purpose
in March). The well-established writer from Iceland who is with us this
year, Adalsteinn Ásberg Sigurdsson, talks about how important it is
for writers to continue to translate the works of other writers in order to
improve their own art. And if this is the advice of a writer of his calibre,
standing and experience, then it's definitely worth listening to.
I also see an inevitable connection
between the Mediterranean and translation, because people, cultures and
their languages can truly meet and understand each other, and the
complexities of their experiences and worldviews, through translation, or
the attempt to translate. Translation is the conscious attempt to enter into
another world, being fully aware that no ultimately no word is translatable,
no experience is transferable: translation is the process, the project, not
the end result. And that's a bit like the Mediterranean, isn't it? in a
constant state of articulating itself, or renewing itself.