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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Total Eclipse of the Heart

If for nothing else, I like the Christmas holidays because I get to find the time to do some of the things I can't do when I'm simply too busy. One of those things is non-academic reading.

One of the things I've been reading recently is Achille Mizzi's new book of poetry entitled Eklissi Perpetwi. He is one of the modern Maltese poets I've admired for many years. I first discovered his work along with others in the anthology Linji Ġodda as a teenager in the early 1980s. I remember the poem Enigma Variations very well, mostly because of its wonderful musical allusions. His collection Il-Kantiku tad-Demm had just been published so it was quite easy to find more of his poems to read. Eventually other books of his poems were published and I was hooked. I was particularly mesmerized by Tango, which became one of my favourite poems of all time, especially after setting it to music for a literary evening in his honour at the University of Malta about 20 years ago.
Achille Mizzi - Eklissi Perpetwi
Whenever I come across any new poems by Achille Mizzi, I immediately look for the musical qualities in them, and I'm never disappointed. Some allusions are subtle, but, as if to reward me and those like me, there's also direct references. In the new collection we get Kitarra and Toccata e Fuga in Re. For the more astute observer there's also Qanpiena, Ritmi, and even Asperges.

I've always believed that Achille Mizzi is like an unassuming bespectacled superhero who transforms himself into his alter ego through his poetry. Eklissi Perpetwi is clearly written by a mature poet. In reading poems like Amnesija, Rebbieħa 2003, Turment, and Lil Binti fil-Milja Tagħha, among others, I see more than a glimpse of the man behind the poet. He's been at it for so long it now seems that the poems are more inseparable from his everyday thoughts than ever. To me, this is what he means by the title of this new book: it's as if his poetic mode is so innate that it now casts an eternal shade on his thoughts.

If you've never read any of Achille Mizzi's poetry, just consider this from his new book:


teleskopju ta' mirja
ġo mirja,

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