Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival
Adrian Grima - 03/09/2008
Six foreign and four Maltese short story writers and poets, a Funk band and a singer songwriter will be participating in this year's third edition of the unconventional Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival at Couvre Porte in Birgu on Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th September, 2008. This is the only international literary festival of its kind held in Malta. Moreover, the Maltese art film Ħalib ix-Xitan (Hell’s Despite) , directed by Jule Belami, will be shown in Malta for the first time on Thursday.
The readings start at 8.00pm and entrance to all events is free. Each evening will feature three different writers. This will also be a festival of languages, although most of the works will be read mainly in Maltese or English. The Festival is being organized by Inizjamed and Literature Across Frontiers, which is part-financed by the Culture 2007 project of the EU, in collaboration with the Birgu Local Council.
Three Different Nights
The writers reading on Thursday are Greek novelist Chris Chryssopoulos, Maltese poet Claudia Gauci, and Palestinian writer and activist Suzan Sahori from Bethlehem. Slovenian novelist and short story writer Polona Glavan, Maltese poets Caldon Mercieca and Simone Inguanez, and Icelandic poet and singer songwriter Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdson, will be reading on Friday. Also on Friday, the Maltese-Palestinian writer Walid Nabhan will pay homage to Mahmoud Darwish who recently passed away. The writers who will be reading on Saturday are Moroccan poet Hassan el Ouazzani, Italian poet and performer Paola Turroni, and novelist, short story writer and poet Karl Schembri. The Maltese funk band Zizza Ensemble will be accompanying the authors in their readings on Saturday night. Some of the poets will be performing, rather than reading their work.
The Festival 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.
Short Stories, Poetry and Music
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 misery.
On Thursday, 11th September, “Ħalib ix-Xitan” (“Hell’s Despite”), a short art film in Maltese directed by Jule Belami and produced by Dawwara Pictures will be shown for the first time in Malta.
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.” Karl Schembri (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.
The participation of Maltese Funk band Zizza Ensemble in last year’s festival, and their collaboration with the guest writers, was a great success. So this year they were once again invited to close off this three-day festival. The members of the band are Steve Delia on guitars, Ruth Abela on saxophone, Charles Cassar on bass, and Mark 'Zizza' Abela on drums.
The Festival is being held with the support of the Malta Tourism Authority, the National Book Centre of Greece, and the Icelandic Literature Fund. The FIVE project for intercultural dialogue and Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust made Suzan Sahori’s participation in this festival possible.
For more information about the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival and the LAF International Literary Translation Workshop visit www.inizjamed.org .
Tel. 7927 9586