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Friday, February 13, 2009

Express Yourself

Pierre J. Mejlak has just published a collection of short stories entitled Qed Nistenniek Nieżla max-Xita. If you understand Maltese you can hear me read one of these short stories by clicking on the clip below.

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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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Thursday, July 26, 2007


I don't usually read fiction. So the fact that I just finished reading Pierre J. Mejlak's Riħ Isfel means that there's more than what's between the covers of this book (masterfully designed by Pierre Portelli, who is also responsible for the image that accompanies my weekly music podcast) that attracts me to it. Now that's the worst thing I could say about my friend Pierre's new book. This is simply because I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

One other thing I certainly didn't expect was the twist at the end of the story. The plot is constructed in a way that, to me, is just as surprising as that in some of the best thrillers I've come across. Other readers may have a different experience, but at least I can truthfully say that I didn't see the ending coming.

If I'm to be honest about my experience of reading Riħ Isfel, I'd say I could have done without some of the similes he employs in his writing; then again this book is meant for young adults who, we could argue at the risking of a gross generalization, need all the stimulation they can get for their risk-managed imagination. But enough of that, I don't want anyone to think I'm a sourpuss.

All in all I'd wholeheartedly recommend Riħ Isfel to anyone who can read Maltese. If for no other reason, just because it is a rare offering: a highly original carefully thought out piece of writing in the Maltese language. I sure don't have the time to write anything like this, but I'm mighty glad I found the time to read it.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Catch the Wind

Pierre J. Mejlak's new novel in Maltese Riħ Isfel is out today.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

No More

I just got back from a short trip to London. I went for the official launch of an amazing book by Steve Dixon called Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation. It's a very ambitious publication, but from the bits and pieces I've read up to now it looks like an excellent book. I'll probably write another blog entry about it after I read the whole thing. It's a big book, so it may take me a while to read it from cover to cover.

As I was on the road I didn't have time to check my email so I only found out that Jean Baudrillard died two days ago just a few hours ago. He is one contemporary philosopher who changed my perception of the world we live in. Two of his most important media theory works (Simulations and America) are sitting on my desk right now as I think it's a fitting tribute to this great man to read some of his writings tonight. I wonder what he had to say about his own death. I don't mean that the way it sounds. What I mean to say is it would be interesting to read his thoughts as he approached death, a la Timothy Leary and his Design for Dying.

As if all this wasn't enough, John Inman's death is all over the news today. He marked my psyche as a child growing up in Malta; in a very different way from Baudrillard years later in New York. Still, I believe that Baudrillard would have certainly had something to say about that if asked.

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