Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Back on the rock for our rocking literature fest


I’m back in Malta where, besides meeting again comrade Marx I will also be joining 10 other writers from the Mediterranean for a week-long writers’ retreat and workshops in which we will be translating each others’ works.

We will then present them in the weekend (Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 August) in what has now become a fixture of the Maltese literary calendar, the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival. You can find the full programme and details here: Festival website.

Here is one poem I will be reading in Maltese, translated by Albert Gatt, who will interview me on Thursday.

The Maltese festa
Date slices – half a dozen,
some qassatat, a dozen cheese cakes;
bread dripping rivulets of oil
like tears of sorrow
of Our Lady;
a statue of the patron saint
held high upon a gilded dais,
his head swinging from left to right
smacking the electric wire;
there's merrymaking in the streets,
the church bells knell
welcome respite from the panegyric,
a vintage sermon, worthy of UNESCO heritage status;
promiscuous youngsters gad about while on a break
from Cana’s marriage course,
a little boy high on his father’s beer,
petards in the sky poking at God,
an officer with damp armpits wielding an ice cream,
a fat man in a stained singlet,
his fatter wife nicking his chips,
a pushchair in the middle of the road, its wheel stuck in a ditch,
a chair reserved for the president of the band club,
the mayor decked with ribbons,
colourful toys all Made in China,
handfuls of paper shreds from balconies,
flags on their poles topped with blue lights
which imitate the solutide of latrines,
lightbulb festoons aglow with stolen power supplies,
houses with open doors,
chandeliers ablaze
and brand-new lace,
endless mounts of ganutell on marbled chests of drawers in hallways,
the envy of the neighbours grouped outside
in sour clouds of sweat, petards and powder
waiting to be dragged by next day's current
into an azure sea polluted
by an entire village.

9789995738235And in other news, my new book of poems in Maltese, Passju Taħt ix-Xita (which translates into Hopscotch in the Rain – also the name of this blog, just in case you missed it) is on sale, just published by Horizons Publications. I just love the cover photo and design by my friend Gilbert Calleja. Gilbert, you’re not only sexy, but a great artist too.

You can now order a copy by clicking here.

Love: can’t get it wrong, can’t get it right


A passionate conversation of love and poetry with CJ Bowerbird, Kelly-Lee Hickey, Lisa Jacobson and Karl Schembri filled the tent with the incredible emotions of both humour and sorrow.

The most powerful element of the session was listening to the poets perform their work.

Poetry slam champion CJ Bowerbird said he writes love poems obliquely with the emotions of longing, lust and loss in mind.

“I write about human love not romantic love,” he told the audience.

Bowerbird recited his poem, Hunger Trilogy, which is about the connection between food and love.

“First to know the thing you seek, learn you must the way to eat. I asked again how should a man truly purely live his life? He said how could you learn this one great truth when you don’t know how to eat some fruit.”

Poetry slam champion of 2010, Kelly-Lee Hickey said “I’m a poet, I…

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When facts lie


Drones fly overhead 24 hours a day. It’s like having a factory upstairs that never switches off and whose humming you cannot escape.

At night, when the navy attacks it’s worse. You listen to the whizzing of missiles sliding overhead and the inevitable explosive follow-up and wonder where did it hit? Who did it hit?

There is violence every day but when there is an escalation like this, there is no break, no shelter and no safety.

Karl Schembri described the recent violent surges in the Gaza Strip where he lives and works with such poetic elegance that, for a moment, you share some small part of that discomfort.

With a journalistic background, Schembri holds facts sacred but says they rarely serve to move people.

“I could tell you all the facts about the Palestine/Israel conflict and you wouldn’t flinch. You cannot measure suffering with a statistic,” said Schembri.


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