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Cyfrolau | Published Work

 

Perffaith Nam

Muzajk

Published by the Authors, 2003
Illustrations by Olaug Vethal

Poems in Maltese, English and Italian by Josette Baldacchino, Anna Pullicino and Imelda Serracino Inglott

“Muzajk”, writes well-known Maltese playwright Oreste Calleja, “could well be a unique publication - not only in that it brings together poetry written in three different languages by three women writers, but also because it manages to encapsulate the sensitivity, aspirations, dreams and recriminations of three generations of females writers - a microcosm of personal worlds sharing a common bond that does not only owe its truth just to a common gender but to an unabashed outpouring of sincerity. At a time when local literature desperately aspires to validate and reassert itself, this contribution is truly admirable.”
I met Anna Pullicino, one of the three poets, at a popular commercial centre to discuss her contribution to Muzajk - hardly the ideal place to talk about the serious business of poetry, but then, as Anna says, poetry is also the art of perceiving mystery in ordinary, everyday life.

“In July 2002 I attended three workshops lead by Welsh poetess Menna Elfyn. Before that I had never thought of writing poetry or anything like that. But Menna was a great source of inspiration. And I had always loved literature.”

Anna Pullicino teaches English literature to fourteen and fifteen-year-olds at San Anton School, and she confesses to being out of touch with literature in Maltese, but she felt she could “never feel comfortable” writing in English. “I seem to be more rational when I write in English. But I express my emotions best in Maltese.”She picks up her mobile phone and talks briefly to the youngest of her four daughters (in English).

Twenty of her poems in Muzajk are in Maltese; eight are in English, but she says nothing about (perhaps because she knows where my preferences lie; perhaps because that’s where her preferences lie). And Menna Elfyn, who writes in Welsh Gaelic and publishes much of her work with English translations made by others, transmitted some very strong ideas about cultural identity and language during her one-week visit to Malta.

Anna Pullicino’s poems in Muzajk are literally her first poems. “Ghanja ghal Hiroshima”, her very first serious attempt to write poetry in Maltese, was inspired by a beautiful, highly suggestive postcard she was asked to write about after Menna’s first workshop. In a way it would be unfair to view her poems in Muzajk as an end product: in reality they are a continuation of those creative writing workshops, a work in progress. “Ghanja ghal Hiroshima” is her favourite poem, because she associates it with the strong emotions, the great pathos that accompanied its writing. I prefer the interesting register taken from the tailor’s trade she experiments with in “Ruh” (Soul); or the cloth and sailing imagery in “Qlugh”, (Sail); or even the eloquence and the bitterness of “L-Ahhar Ironija” (The Last Irony). Anna Pullicino’s handling of rhythm is often admirable: her challenge, I suppose lies precisely in focusing on form in order to transmit her strong emotions with a language that stimulates her readers and forces them to revisit, to rediscover reality, as Aristotle would have said.
- Adrian Grima