Letteratura, Malta u l-Mediterran
Il-Festival Mediterranju tal-Letteratura ta’ Malta huwa opportunità biex awturi minn bnadi differenti tal-Mediterran u lilhinn jiltaqgħu fi spazju kreattiv kemm għalihom bħala artisti kif ukoll għall-pubbliku li jiġi biex jaqsam l-esperjenza letterarja magħhom.
Għax għalina l-letteratura hija mument ta’ inkontru u skontru, ta’ konferma u sfida. F’dan il-Festival il-kittieba joffru esperjenza artistika li tqanqal u tisfida l-konċezzjoni u l-esperjenza tagħna tal-ħajja u tad-dinja. Permezz tal-kliem u s-silenzji, tad-deklamazzjoni u n-nofs diskors, il-kittieba jillivaw bibien magħluqa, jixkfu wesgħat li ma nobsrux li jistgħu jeżistu.
Għażilna li niffukaw fuq il-Mediterran, għax minkejja li ninsabu fil-qalba ġeografika u kulturali tiegħu, aħna l-Maltin warrabnieh mill-aspirazzjonijiet tagħna. Għażilna l-Mediterran għax fih hemm enerġija kreattiva straordinarja li waqt li tisfida l-isterjotipi li akkumulajna matul iż-żmien dwar ir-reġjun tagħna, għandha l-ħila tispira l-kreattività fina. Għażilna l-Mediterran għax f’dak li qed joffri u jiffaċċja, minn kriżijiet umani, kulturali u ambjentali, sa proġetti bi sħab bejn komunitajiet differenti li qed joffru soluzzjonijiet u alternattivi sostenibbli, hemm ħjiel ta’ dan li qed iseħħ fuq livell globali.
Permezz tal-Festival Mediterranju tal-Letteratura ta’ Malta nipproponu esperjenza artistika u umana mnebbħa mill-kelma. Imma nfittxu wkoll forom oħrajn tal-arti, bħall-mużika u l-film, biex iqanqlu u jisfidaw il-letteratura.
Barra minn hekk, nixtiequ li l-Festival ikun punt ta’ riferiment dwar il-letteratura kontemporanja Maltija, kemm għall-pubbliku Malti kif ukoll għal dawk, fil-Mediterran u lilhinn, li jridu jesperjenzaw il-letteratura tagħna.
Literature, Malta and the Mediterranean
MaltaMedia journalist Glen Calleja interviews Adrian Grima
It’s about contemporary literature and how writers today are articulating their own experiences and those of people around them. It’s about how writers, especially in the Mediterranean, are grappling with a literary language that continually needs invention and re-invention, that continually faces failures and successes in trying to communicate, or rather share, life’s experiences.
This festival is about intercultural dialogue – after all, Inizjamed was chosen as one of the Maltese ambassadors of intercultural dialogue for 2008.
It’s about meeting and being together in the Mediterranean, listening to one another, inspiring and being inspired, shocking others and being shocked by others, articulating the stories that don’t get told in an increasingly superficial and cliche-driven mainstream media.
Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival is about saying the unsaid and trying to say the “unsayable.”
What makes it Mediterranean?
What makes it Mediterranean is the location, an ancient maritime port in a splendid, reinvigorated city in a thriving island nation in the centre of this Basin. To us, what makes it Mediterranean is the stories of many of the writers who are invited to take part in it, their own personal story and the stories they tell. But also our idea of the Mediterranean not only as a mosaic, or polyphony, as Thierry Fabre calls it, but also as a devenir, a project or work in progress, a success that has the potential to become a failure, a failure that has the potential to become a success: a meeting point of different stories and experiences of the world, a common ground for debate, for disagreement, for affinity, for tragedy in the depths of the blue seas, a common ground for solidarity.
It’s a Mediterranean Festival because it sees our region also as a microcosm of the world, with its richness and diversity, with its creativity and perseverance, with its openness and joie de vivre. It’s a Mediterranean festival because it’s a babel-like courtyard of languages from the region but also from beyond, a point of reference but also a point of arrival and a point of departure. Together with the new wave of poets and short story writers from Malta we’ve had writers from Algeria, Catalonia, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Palestine, Slovenia, and Turkey, but also Finland, Iceland, Latvia, and Wales.
That’s already quite a list. And before we’re finished with this edition, we’re already thinking of the next.
What is the aim/purpose of the festival: is it to promote Malta? is it to promote Maltese literature and writers? is it to promote literature among the Maltese?
Yes, the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival aims to promote Maltese literature and Maltese writers both in Malta and abroad. And we feel that one way of doing that is by seeing ourselves as writers of the Mediterranean, living in and often grappling with the Mediterranean.
We believe that promoting this regional dimension is one way of generating interest in our literature in a world in which everyone is doing their level best to draw attention to their works, to their writers. The authorities in Malta, as you know, are doing nothing of the sort: we are practically the only country in the EU without a policy for the promotion of our literature, the only country with no funds allocated specifically to the development and promotion of Maltese literature.
We are the only country in the EU with NO funds for translating foreign works of literature into Maltese and Maltese literature into other languages. More than one million two hundred thousand tourists visit Malta every year and we have almost nothing in terms of our literature translated into their languages to offer them. Not even in English! It’s a bad joke. Maltese writers are constantly being invited abroad and there are no funds for them to get their work translated.
We are doing our bit as writers and cultural activists: but we expect our government to do what every other government in the EU and beyond (as in Iceland for example, a country with a population smaller than ours) has been doing for a very long time. And we do not accept the excuse that funds are not available. Because if Inizjamed, with its limited resources of volunteers and a pitiful balance in its bank account, can organize these international projects year after year, then I don’t see why government cannot support all those involved in literature, the publishing industry and the creative industries to do so much more.
The festival’s participants are mostly young writers: is this a political statement?
Well, yes, I suppose it is. But the accent should be on “mostly,” because we’ve had very well-established Maltese and foreign writers taking part in this festival.
The Festival is intimately tied to the Malta LAF Literary Translation Workshop, with writers living together for a week and translating each other’s works. This somehow conditions (I wouldn’t say limits, because it’s not a negative limitation) our choice of writers: not all writers are available or ready to spend a week with other writers translating their work and discussing their own work with those who are translating it.
Most of those who do choose to make this experience find it extremely rewarding – and some Maltese writers have also started to do this abroad (Simone Inguanez was in Latvia for a translation workshop in July and I was in Algeria for the same purpose in March). The well-established writer from Iceland who is with us this year, Adalsteinn Ásberg Sigurdsson, talks about how important it is for writers to continue to translate the works of other writers in order to improve their own art. And if this is the advice of a writer of his calibre, standing and experience, then it’s definitely worth listening to.
I also see an inevitable connection between the Mediterranean and translation, because people, cultures and their languages can truly meet and understand each other, and the complexities of their experiences and worldviews, through translation, or the attempt to translate. Translation is the conscious attempt to enter into another world, being fully aware that no ultimately no word is translatable, no experience is transferable: translation is the process, the project, not the end result. And that’s a bit like the Mediterranean, isn’t it? in a constant state of articulating itself, or renewing itself.
11th September 2008