Intervisti ma' Adrian Grima

Adrian Grima Interviewed


 

 Poets of Our Times - Sandra Aquilina interviews poets of Riħ min-Nofsinhar (2010)

March, The Sunday Circle

 

Patricia Camilleri interviews Adrian Grima about his reading (2009)

Talking Books, Campus FM (25 August 2009)

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar is-Saħħa għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

April, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Opportunitajiet Indaqs għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

April, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar il-Politika dwar iż-Żgħażagħ għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

April, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Ekonomija għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Marzu, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Edukazzjoni għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Marzu, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Ambjent għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Marzu, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Impjiegi għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Frar, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Immigrazzjoni għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Frar, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar l-Inklużjoni Soċjali għall-proġett 090509 (2009)

Frar, o90509

 

Filmat tal-intervent dwar Riħ min-Nofsinhar fuq Reporter (2009)

Saviour Balzan, Reporter, TVM (Frar)

 

Hassan el Ouazzani interviews Adrian Grima (2009)

(September 2008)

 

Interview in Arabic on Al Khaleej, Morocco  (2009)

Hassan el Ouazzani, Al Khaleej, Morocco (14 February, 2009)

 

Il-Letteratura u l-Kriika Kontemporanja  - L-Isbaħ l-Imgħoddi (2009)

Charles Xuereb, Campus FM (8 ta' Jannar, 2009)

 

Riħ min-Nofsinhar - Il-Prezz Qares tat-Tibdil fil-Klima (2009)

Mario Azzopardi, In-Nazzjon Tagħna (13 ta' Jannar, 2009)

More than a century on, is Dun Karm still relevant? (2008)

Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, The Times (21 October 2008)

Franica Pulis tintervista lil Adrian Grima dwar id-Djalogu Interkulturali (2008)

Illum (22 ta' Ġunju, 2008)

John P. Portelli Jintervista lil Adrian Grima  (2006)

L-Aħbar (Toronto, Awwissu 2006)

Charles Xuereb Jitkellem ma' Adrian Grima dwar Rakkmu (2006)

Salon Crit, Campus FM, Frar 2006

Rakkmu - Writing Poetry to Tell Stories (2006)

Karsten Xuereb, Babelmed, March 20, 2006

Il-Loġika tal-Vjolenza - Rakkmu ta' Adrian Grima (2006)

Sergio Grech, 18 ta' Frar, 2006

Maltese is a powerful and fascinating language (2006)

Charlot Zahra, The Malta Independent, March 24, 2006

Festival Internazzjonali tan-Novella fuq Campus FM

Charles Xuereb, "Kultura 'l Fejn?" Campus FM (Diċ. 05)

Racism in Malta

Camille Choteau, The Malta Independent on Sunday, May 29, 2005

La poesia sceglie la parte della diversità

La Sicilia (Stilos), 12.04.05,  di Paola Turroni

Oltre la logica folle

FuoriCasa.poesia, marzo 09, 2005, di Paola Turroni

Down the hatch and beyond

Gillian Bartolo, The Malta Independent on Sunday, 31 Aug 31, 2003

Adrian Grima Fuq ix-Xarabank

Natasha Turner, Fuq ix-Xarabank, It- 8 ta' Settembru, 2003

Adrian Grima, Koordinatur ta' Inizjamed

Il-Mument, 22 ta' Ġunju, 2003, ta' Tonio Bonello

What Authors Read - Adrian Grima

Stanley Borg, The Times, Mar 8, 2003

A Tale of One City

Stanley Borg, The Times, 24 Aug 24, 2002

Circle of Life

Marika Azzopardi, The Sunday Circle, May 9, 2002

The Politics of Poetry

Gillian Bartolo, The Malta Independent on Sunday, Aug 12, 2001

The Last Word - Adrian Grima

Sharon Spiteri, The Times, July 21, 2001

Gżejjer” fl-Aħħar Ġimgħa ta’ Lulju

Sergio Grech, l-20 ta’ Ġunju, 2001

Il-Poeżija li Tikkontesta

Sergio Grech, Il-Mument, "Fokus", is-26 ta' Novembru, 2000 (Mejju 2000)

Kitbiet mill-Mediterran

 Sergio Grech, L-Orizzont, "Għalik", is-7 ta' Ottubru, 2000 (30.8.00)

Spotlight on Adrian Grima

Nadine Brincat, Klikka.net, 30 September, 2003

Other Interviews / Intervisti Oħra


La poesia sceglie la parte della diversità

di Paola Turroni

Adrian Grima è poeta e insegna letteratura maltese all'Università di Malta. Tiene conferenze sulla cultura e sulla letteratura maltese, sulla metafora e sul Mediterraneo a Malta, in Italia, Europa, America. Alcune sue poesie sono stato pubblicate in Italia, Germania, Cipro, Olanda, Francia e Austria. Ha inoltre curato la pubblicazione di letteratura contemporanea maltese ne F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera (Inizjamed, 2003) (In ogni città c'è un angolo). Stilos lo ha incontrato.

 

É inevitabile rimanere colpiti dal suo impegno politico e sociale, che nelle sue poesie si fa parola forte e urlo assunto in prima persona. In che modo la scrittura l’accompagna nelle lotte che effettivamente vive tutti i giorni, nel suo lavoro e con la sua associazione?

 

Sento sempre questo grande bisogno di creare con la lingua e di esprimere alcune delle esperienze che vivo. Quello che scrivo normalmente non parla di me, perché mi interessa di più quello che succede intorno a me. Quando mi colpisce quello che sento, quello che vedo, o quello che mi raccontano altre persone, ritorna questo grande bisogno di metterlo in parole, anche se so che queste parole, queste forme, possono dare solo un assaggio, aprire una piccolissima finestra, iniziare un’esperienza nella persona che legge che va ben aldilà del mio “racconto”, però parte da lì, da un’immagine, da un personaggio, da una parola. Per esempio in queste settimane sto tentando di scrivere una poesia che “racconta” il mio incontro qui a Malta con degli amici di Ramallah. Il punto di partenza è stato, come spesso mi accade, un verso, e col verso un suono, in questo modo tento di esplorare e nello stesso tempo di trasmettere le tante cose che sento su questi amici, sulla Palestina, sull’ingiustizia, sulla violenza e l’imprigionamento, tramite una catena di suoni.

 

A cosa serve la poesia in questo contestabile mondo? E dire “serve” è il verbo giusto? So che ha tentato una risposta, insieme ad altri poeti, durante l’ultimo Festival Internazionale di Poesia di Malta a settembre, ci può riportare qui il suo punto di vista?

 

La poesia può tentare di dare un senso, o forse semplicemente una forma, all’esistenza; può tentare di raccontare l’ingiustizia, e nel raccontarla, sfidarla. E forse anche dominarla… La poesia anche tenta di raccontare quello che non si può raccontare, andare oltre la logica spesso folle che ci guida, anche quando leggiamo un testo. La poesia rappresenta una decisione da parte di chi scrive e di chi legge o ascolta, di cambiare la funzione della lingua. Spesso la poesia ci offre un’esperienza che solo un uso poetico, sovversivo della lingua ci può offrire. In questo senso la poesia rappresenta una scelta che si scontra con l’omologazione proposta dalle corporation che controllano quello che mandano in onda i mass media più diffusi, il cibo e le bevande che consumiamo, i vestiti che indossiamo e le canzoni che cantiamo. La poesia ha la capacità innata di sfidare le opposizioni facili fra pace e guerra, fra Nord e Sud, fra donne e uomini, fra legale ed illegale, fra giusto e ingiusto, e così via. La poesia si schiera, in un modo naturale, dalla parte della diversità che c’é nelle radici della natura  di cui noi tutti facciamo parte. La poesia cerca di sovvertire l’ordine stabilito, smuove, sposta, riscrive, contesta.

 

Lei sostiene con molto vigore la lingua maltese rispetto a quella inglese, perché questa bellissima lingua, un misto di arabo, siciliano, italiano, inglese ha bisogno di essere difesa così tenacemente?

 

Nella sua autobiografia Out of Place, Edward Said dice “Tutto vivono la vita in una lingua particolare; perciò tutti vivono, assorbono e ricordano le loro esperienze in quella lingua”. Quando ero piccolo, a casa, anche se i miei genitori fra di loro parlavano il maltese, a me parlavano in inglese, anche a scuola c’era l’idea che il maltese fosse inferiore all’inglese, che con l’inglese una persona poteva avere un’educazione migliore e avere più rispetto dalla società. Man mano che crescevo questa tesi non mi convinceva più, poi a 15 anni ho dovuto studiare una serie di drammi teatrali di Oreste Calleja, che hanno capovolto le mie impressioni su che cosa si può fare con il maltese, fino ad allora infatti mi avevano dato quasi solo letteratura maltese romantica scritta nella prima metà del novecento. Così a 16 anni ho deciso che volevo studiare il maltese, e non soltanto parlarlo a casa e con gli amici. Ho frequentato la sixth form (due anni non obbligatori di scuola prima dell’università) e lì ho incontrato un’educazione più rispettosa, qualche volta anche orgogliosa, del maltese. Ho scoperto la nuova letteratura in maltese con la quale potevo identificarmi e ho cominciato a leggere, insieme con altri amici che amavano la scrittura, tutto quello che potevano trovare nella biblioteca della scuola. Ancora oggi i ragazzi che vogliono fare carriera nella società confidano nell’inglese, così quando andranno a occupare le posizioni di potere continueranno a influenzare negativamente il rapporto delle persone con la loro lingua. Fortunatamente c’é anche chi pensa che il maltese va coltivato, e non semplicemente preservato come un sito archeologico. La nostra sfida é quella di proporre un maltese creativo, dinamico, bello, una lingua maltese indispensabile per esprimere le nostre realtà. Puoi venire a Malta e cavartela senza imparare una parola di maltese, ma saprai immediatamente di essere stato escluso dalla vita quotidiana della maggioranza del popolo. Come scrittore, come operatore culturale e come insegnante, io ho la responsabilità di coltivare e promuovere la nostra lingua.

 

Sono molte le iniziative culturali che la vedono impegnato in prima persona a mantenere vivo un dialogo tra gli artisti del Mediterraneo, ci parli di questa esperienza.

 

Quando nel 1998 mi sono impegnato per fondare l’organizzazione culturale Inizjamed volevo, fra altre cose, promuovere una nuova conoscenza delle culture del Mediterraneo e far si che artisti maltesi, specialmente nuovi scrittori, lavorassero di più con artisti del nostro mare, una grande ricchezza umana, ambientale, culturale, intellettuale… Noi dobbiamo scegliere di essere mediterranei perché come dice Matvejević, “la mediterraneità non si eredita, ma si consegue. È una decisione, non un vantaggio”. Per esempio lo scorso novembre, abbiamo organizzato un festival di letteratura emergente del Mediterraneo, il climax del progetto di scrittura creativa “Klandestini” cominciato nel 2003. Giovani autori di Malta, Italia, Grecia e Cipro hanno fatto dei laboratori di scrittura con autori che vivono nel Regno Unito, tra cui Jane Griffiths, alcuni hanno scritto direttamente in inglese, ma la grande maggioranza degli scrittori, come avevamo auspicato noi, hanno scelto di scrivere in italiano, maltese, greco e turco. A Marzo sono stato invitato a Catania per il festival di poesia "Voci del Mediterraneo". C’era un gruppo di poeti molto affiatato e, essendo quasi il più giovane, credo di aver imparato molto da dei grandi maestri. Spero di tornare presto in Sicilia e di avere modo di continuare a scoprirla, é un’isola nella quale vivono tante persone che credono in una collaborazione stretta fra artisti del Mediterraneo.

Much of this interview was published in the Italian national daily, La Sicilia (Stilos) on 12.04.05.

Down the hatch and beyond

Gillian Bartolo


ADRIAN GRIMA is the co-ordinator of Inizjamed, an organisation dedicated to artistic expression and cultural activity. He speaks to Gillian Bartolo about Inizjamed’s upcoming projects

The cultural organisation Inizjamed has been operating since 1998. What are your projects for autumn and next year?

This is a particularly exciting period for us. Over the past few months we have been working hard on two big artistic projects that start in October and at the same time reorganising our internal structure. In June we participated in the XI edition of the Biennial for Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean which was held in Athens - our largest contingent to date, and in July and August we organised a series of six literary encounters at Cettina’s Caf
é in Valletta - the idea was to give emerging writers the opportunity to discuss their works with their audience in an unusual setting. We hope to use what we learnt, both as an organisation and as artists and cultural operators, in the two major projects that are coming up.

Both projects have been funded by established organisations and have a strong international, mostly Mediterranean dimension.

One of the projects is “Bokkaporti (stejjer dwar hafna xorti)”. It is being funded by UNESCO and will give young disadvantaged people in the cities around Grand Harbour the opportunity to tell their stories using artistic media such as theatre, dance, literature and narrative. We will be working in collaboration with a host of foreign, but mostly local, organisations, like the Third World Group which does voluntary work in the social field. These organisations (and institutions like schools) already have a good relationship with the young people we will be working with.

A "bokkaport" is a hatchway, an opening in a ship’s deck through which cargo is lowered into the hold; it can also be a door leading to a lower deck. To us, and especially to Karsten Xuereb, the project coordinator who came up with the name, “bokkaporti” is linked to the idea of self expression (bokka), to harbours (port), and to the process of going down, of searching within.

What is the purpose behind the project?

Bokkaporti is inspired by similar initiatives being undertaken in Malta and abroad and will have input from partners on other islands such as Sardinia and Majorca (as part of the multilateral Archipelagos project) who have invaluable expertise and experience in community arts projects and animation. The young people aged between 12 and 16 who will be taking part in the project, will be encouraged to ‘tell their story’ so to speak, to express their thoughts and feelings about their physical environment and how they interact with it - to go down the hatchway of their personal history and that of their community.

This process gives people greater self-awareness and confidence in themselves; ultimately, re-appropriating your story, telling it yourself rather than having someone else narrate it instead of you, empowers you. We do not want to intrude or pry into anyone’s life and we will work with the organisations which already have a relationship with these children and know how to respect their privacy. It will be a learning experience for us too.

Why did you choose the Grand Harbour area to site your project?

In the past years Inizjamed has been exploring the cosmopolitan identity of Malta and this has led us to work in Vittoriosa and Valletta, which have both had so much contact with foreigners. We were intrigued by the way the conservative model of the Maltese identity excludes the “subversive” model of cosmopolitanism; the Maltese Islands can be both a people who mix with everyone and can live everywhere and at the same time have a strong sense of her own history and culture. Bokkaporti, with its shipping image, is a natural variation on this theme, so to speak. As in F’Kull Belt Hemm Kantuniera (March 2003) we are focusing on individual stories; but in Bokkaporti the disadvantaged youth themselves will be telling their stories.

Your other big project is called “Klandestini - Emerging Mediterranean Writers”, but it is about cultivating emerging writers. Why this name?

The issue of migration is an important one in the Mediterranean (as elsewhere) and one which we feel artists should engage with, get involved in, and take positions. Besides, emerging writers themselves are “clandestine” in a way, because they are outsiders and unauthorised. The image or theme of Klandestini is meant to stimulate creativity and debate, not hamper it. The workshops will focus on poetry and short stories.
link up
“Klandestini” is a multilateral creative writing project run by Inizjamed and The British Council, with the support of the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, between October 2003 and December 2004. It consists of a series of workshops in creative writing and literary translation for emerging writers in various Mediterranean countries such as Malta, Cyprus, and Italy, (and possibly Turkey, Tunisia and France). We are co-ordinating the artistic side of the project directly with our partners in each of the participating countries in consultation with The British Council. The idea is to have workshops led by well-established writers based in the UK for new writers, writing in their native language, and having their works translated into English so they can communicate with other writers in various countries through a professionally designed website.

We are also having parallel workshops for teenagers. We have already identified two area secondary schools where students could take part in the project. I personally would like to see students from Junior College and undergraduates engaging in the project. Klandestini reaches its climax with a Festival of Emerging Mediterranean Writers to be held at St James Cavalier in November 2004 with the active participation of writers from all participating countries and local artists. We will also be presenting the best works in book form and/or on-line during the festival.

The mentor of the two sets of workshops on creative writing and literary translation to be held in Malta is Maurice Riordan (in picture left), an important Irish London-based poet published by Faber who was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2000.

You are also involved in an EU project aren’t you?

Yes. As from September we will have an Italian EVS volunteer working with Inizjamed for nine months, funded by the Youth Programme of the EU. Alessandra Sciarra will be actively involved in the Klandestini and Bokkaporti projects and in the coordination of cultural projects for Inizjamed with a special focus on the Mediterranean. She is a cultural animator and volunteer with ARCI - a leading cultural organisation in Italy with which we have a long-standing, very fruitful relationship. She has just graduated in language (and literature) from the University of Bologna.

Ever since our EVS project, “Creative Sustainability” appeared on the web, http://www.sosforevs.org/, we have been swamped with requests, by e-mail, fax and telephone, from young people (at least 100) from all over Europe who want to work with us!

Are you also bringing Benjamin Zephaniah and Sinéad Morrissey?

Yes. Benjamin Zephaniah is a rap poet of Jamaican origin who is one of Britain’s most popular poets. We are bringing him to Malta together with The British Council in the last week of October to visit schools and give a workshop and public performances at St James Cavalier. Like the Chilean writer Luis Sep∑lveda, we believe that literature should seduce with words, apart from communicate ideas, and Benjamin will do just that. He is a fascinating poet, and he uses language in a wonderfully refreshing way. He writes for children, teenagers and adults - there is a lot about him and his works on his website at http://www.benjaminzephaniah.com

Another visitor will be Sinead Morrissey, a poet and academic who will be here in the last week of November. Like Benjamin, despite having taught and performed in many countries, she’s really looking forward to her visit to Malta. She will be giving two creative writing workshops which are open to the general public and on Friday 28 November she will read her poetry at St James Cavalier. On Saturday 29 November she will read a paper at a seminar on literature organised by the Department of Maltese at Junior College.

Are there any other projects in the pipeline?

Another important project we are working on consists of a series of performances and workshops in theatre and dance by French artists in 2004. We will make our plans public as soon as they have been finalised by our partners in France.

Inizjamed has always been a very open organisation - open to ideas and people who want to inject new life into artistic expression and cultural activity in Malta. This open attitude has encouraged individuals and organisations to approach us with proposals in the same way that we have approached others ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s not what you say or write in the papers: it’s what you do. There is a lot of energy in Inizjamed and people are really eager to innovate, to break new ground, to seduce!

Besides, we now have an office which we share with the other members of the Forum for Justice and Cooperation (Third World Group, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Kopin) at the National Swimming Pool Complex in Msida - with the support of the Ministry for Youth, Sports, Culture and the Arts and the swimming pool complex itself.


For regular updates about projects and initiatives coordinated by Inizjamed go to www.maltaforum.org or http://inizjamed.cjb.net or write to inizjamed@maltaforum.org, or phone 7946 7952.
 

The Malta Independent on Sunday, 31.8.03

http://www.independent.com.mt/daily/newsview.asp?id=20541

 

 

A Tale of One City

Our urban identity has been tarred and feathered for years on end. Inizjamed takes a look behind the city walls, and tells us that the enemy looks just like us.

 

by Stanley Borg

Inizjamed, a group of young artists, was formed in the late ’90s. The ’90s, when we thought that surface was depth and the Spice Girls ground-breaking, when pop stars preached and grey suits kept coming in the height of fashion. The mission statement of the group was, and still is, to explore our Mediterranean and island identity through various forms of art. Since then, Inizjamed has collaborated with foreign artists, the calibre of Mario Brai, Massimo Barilla, Kevin MacNeil, Menna Elfyn and Sarah Lucas, in organising workshops and artistic activities. This year, together with Galician poet, novelist and literary critic Miro Villar, their main activity will take place in Vittoriosa, as well as a number of workshops at the St James Cavalier.

A tale of one city

Adrian Grima takes off his glasses, wipes them thoroughly with a handkerchief that must have been abducted by aliens and thoroughly searched for dubious substances, and puts them on again. He looks at me, blinks once, twice, and looks at me as if he hasn’t heard my proposed title for this article. I know what that means: he hates it. I’ve known Adrian, Inizjamed’s coordinator, for the past three years, so very little escapes me about him, and vice versa.

“It’s not that the title is that bad,” he retorts, as we calmly sit and watch Samwel, his older son just turned five, hum and rattle with his bicycle. Earlier on he had confided that his bike could fly, and roar, just like Spiderman. I’m not exactly a superhero expert, but I’m sure that in my telly days, Spiderman could neither fly nor much less roar. Must be a more recent model of the spinner takes all.

“The fact is,” continues Adrian, “that in this project, which we have called Bliet (u Miti) [Cities (and Myths)], our aim is not to explore Birgu as one single city, but more as a symbol. We want to become aware of our Maltese urban identity, and how this identity has been reviled and changed by both historians and artists alike, whereas on the other hand, countryside villages have always been romanticised and pictured as a healthy maiden of bounty and virtue.” My title dead, buried and changed, we discuss the project in greater depth.

A host of some of the best known Maltese poets, actors, sculptors, painters and musicians have, for the past months, been mapping out Birgu, walking every street and sitting down in each and every bar chatting with the locals, getting inspired to create a new discourse and fresh metaphors that better describe the city dwellers.

“You seem like you’ve been dissecting the whole city on the operation table,” I comment. Adrian disagrees (again! One more and not even a Spiderman who flies and roars will be able to save him). “We have been discovering Birgu as a city, a space, a metaphor which we possess and are possessed by. Knowing the details of something can only bring you closer to that same something.” As Umberto Eco says, even gynaecologists fall in love.

Adrian has published a collection of poems, entitled It-Trumbettier. Apart from that, he teaches, is currently reading for his Ph.D thesis, and is involved in other groups apart from Inizjamed, such as the Third World Group, Kopin and the KKG, which runs l-Arka. I ask him if he knows something about the relativity of time which we common mortals don’t.

“It’s just a drive, an impetus to work hard at doing things that I like, more often than not, having to do with Mediterranean cultures and identities.”

“The Mediterranean, the third world and nationalism: wouldn’t globalisation solve a lot of problems?” I ask.

“I doubt it,” Adrian answers, taking off his glasses for another wipe. “I guess a little less globalised Europe would be nearer to what I would like to see, even if my pessimism does not allow for a lot of solutions. Apart from that, an avoidance of narrow nationalism would solve some problems. After all, to borrow a phrase from Julian Pitt-Rivers, nations and names are often concepts of heuristic convenience.

I turn the discussion back to Inizjamed and literature. “Recently, you have organised a series of creative workshops for women, with the participation of Welsh author Menna Elfyn and Sarah Lucas’s photography. What do you think women’s participation in our society should be?” My question seems sophisticated, and I’m proudly congratulating myself until Adrian bursts out laughing and tells me to posit the question to his wife, she being more competent in the female area, herself a woman. I quickly recover, and slide in a high tackle-Roy Keane-style question about his poetry.

“Poetry has to be insightful and revealing,” he replies, “and above all, it should move the reader’s pleasure principle. My poetry is all about capturing a moment, a sensation, an emotion, like catching someone’s eye for a brief moment which becomes eternal in recalling.”

“And Maltese literature?” I quip, “how does it compare to other literatures?”

“I think the situation today is that most of our culture, feelings and positions are being ‘constructed’ by the wrong people. Not entirely, obviously. There are some authors whose literature I find revealing. There are also quite a good number of young authors (within Inizjamed and elsewhere) who I think will constitute an interesting future for our literature and art in general.” He relaxes his gaze and smiles with silent satisfaction. “I realised how Inizjamed has come a long way this last year when someone congratulated me on something about Inizjamed which I didn’t even know of. I mean, someone else could describe this as bad management, but for me it means that we are growing in a healthy way. After all, as Forster said, all art should aim at expansion, like music. Currently, I really admire and take great pleasure in reading what Immanuel Mifsud and Henry Holland are writing.”


• The workshops with Miro Villar will be held on Wednesday and Saturday. For bookings, write to inizjamed@maltaforum.org, or phone 2137 6941 or 7959 5290.

At the project Bliet [u Miti], each artist will be presenting their inspiration next Thursday and Friday at Couvre Porte at 8.30 p.m. On Thursday, Miro Villar, together with Adrian Grima and Mark-Anthony Falzon, will be holding a public forum on our cosmopolitan nature. Some works by established and other authors, like Henry Holland, Immanuel Mifsud, Ìor© Peresso and Leslie Vassallo, will be presented. On Friday, Miro Villar will be presenting Diapoesia, a number of unpublished poems against a backdrop of slides by the Galician photographer Xan Muras. The evening will also include a theatrical representation by Romina Cachia (of Teatru Marta Kwitt fame) and Stanley Borg, a musico-literary presentation by Simone Inguanez and Vince Fabri, and other works by Norbert Bugeja, Maria Grech Ganado and Adrian Grima. Actors Marcelle Teuma and Ray Calleja will also be participating, as well as young musician Jonathan Grima and leading saxophonist Joseph Vella. Watercolors by William Azzopardi and work by sculptor Savio Deguara will also be on show.

Published in The Times, 24th Aug 2002

http://lifestyle.timesofmalta.com/article.php?id=552

 

 


The Politics of Poetry

Interview by Gillian Bartolo

Adrian Grima (photo by Matthew Mirabelli), writer, social activist and cultural organizer speaks to Gillian Bartolo about globalisation and cultural identity, politics and literature and the conservatism of young people.

Set up in 1998, Inizjamed, a Mediterranean cultural organization, promotes diversity, creates projects with a social and political dimension. It is coordinated by Maltese lecturer Adrian Grima. Most recently it organized a series of poetry and music evenings and writers’s workshops with the participation of Kevin MacNeill, born on the island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and one of the foremost young poets in Europe today.

As a member of the Third World Group, for eleven years Adrian worked closely with the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa) in Bormla with children who otherwise roamed the street. He also worked in Palermo, in London with children from the Caribbean, and in Tunisia with deaf and dumb children. In the early 90s he went to Uganda and Peru with his wife Nathalie who is the President of Kooperattiva Kummerc Gust (Fair Trade Cooperative) of the World Shop L-Arka, to do voluntary work. For the last two years he has been working with children in Valletta.

  • Is there any connection between your social work and Inizjamed?

Definitely. Inizjamed has a social dimension which needs to be developed further, and we are moving in this direction. For example last year we worked on a project called “Fabbrikazzjoni” , where a group of writers from Inizjamed tried to understand and articulate the experiences of young factory workers, mostly women. Factory workers were the protagonists of the project. We organized a forum in which seven of the eight speakers were factory workers – six of them, young women who still work in factories as machine operators and assemblers. It was a wonderful experience. I would like to work more in the south and there is a movement in Inizjamed of people who want to work outside the cultural elite.

  • Your most recent project was called “Gzejjer” (Islands). What does this project consist of?

Gzejjer is essentially a creative writing project, and our workshops with Kevin MacNeill as well as our recent literary evening of Maltese works were part of that project. In October, we’re organizing two lots of sessions for people who want to write: one for writers of children’s literature and one for women writers. Both are coordinated by women as are most of our projects. Another dimension of Inizjamed is giving space to women, which is important in a country that is much more patriarchal than we would like to admit.

The project also studies the nature of writing and how to develop writing skills. At one point we realized that as writers, we were producing more of the same. We needed to develop our art, to learn how to write, and this is where the workshops come in. Together with the young Brazilian writer  Jelson Oliveira who was in Malta for six months last year, we discussed the nature of political writing, whether the writer should be a social activist, and where, in a piece of writing, the activist ends and the writer begins.

I agree with Kevin MacNeill that literature is a political act. Writing in Gaelic is a political act is writing in Maltese.The cultural activist or operator makes political and social choices all the time. The people I invite to an event, the issues I discuss: these are all political decisions. The cultural activist and writer can come together in one person, which is true in my case. But the writer should never churn out propaganda.

  • In your literature on Gzejjer, your group comes out strongly against a globalized world? Has globalization no redeeming features?

With globalization, it is not the big powers, the Group of Eight who are in control, but  the big businesses behind them. I think we should fight against a world run by MacDonalds, Coca Cola, Nestle. Life is all about variety and diversity. It makes all creatures significantly different. The minute we start to undermine or subdue that diversity we start to undermine life itself. This of course is what we have done to the natural environment, and this is also what transnational corporations would like to do with culture. Monoculture is doing to culture what it has done to the natural environment: it impoverishes humankind but it also impoverishes other life forms,

The Gzejjer Project is a reaction also to this kind of globalization. I wouldn’t like to water down the argument against globalization by saying there are different kinds. There is ONE globalization with some interesting aspects such as the Internet, which can democratize things and certainly it has made Inizjamed much more positive and effective.

But at the end of the day globalization is killing people. It’s making the majority of the people in the world poorer than they were in the 70s, and  it has not delivered any of its promises.

  • Why do you give so much importance to the Maltese language?

A discussion about being Maltese is very often a discussion about the Maltese language because as Amin Maalouf ( a Lebanese writer living in France) says, language is very much the standard bearer of cultural identity. The problem in Malta is that we keeping pitting one language against the other. This is a false issue.

We’re saying that in a world dominated by a monoculture, the only way for a person and a people to retain their identity, self-respect, is to respect diversity of their culture without pitting it against other cultures, such as Islam, or against English, as we do here.

Preserving the Maltese language is not about fossilizing it: it’s about nurturing a language that has expressed our ways of life, out culture, our beliefs, our history, our experiences, our world views. In an economically (and therefore culturally) globalized world, one of the ways to keep alive your identity is to promote your cultural alternative. Language facilitates communication, but it also represents identity.

  • What are we doing to make Maltese literature more relevant to young people. Is there a danger that researched Maltese becomes esoteric?

This is a subject our group keeps coming back to. We believe that our literature needs to reflect the developments not only in our culture but also in our language. Many people who talk in favour of Maltese want to fossilize the language, but fortunately language defies them. Many of the poems read last Tuesday reflected not only what young people are thinking, but what they are saying. But we must be careful not to prescribe to writers what to write.  The writing of our group is a writing which is different from the 60s group, but not antagonistic. We work closely with Trevor Zahra who is a product of the 60s for example. What provides the impetus for us to write in a new way, is that we feel Maltese literature as it is, is unable to reflect our experience. So many of us are experimenting with a new language.

  • Do you agree that young people are interested only in being entertained?

In a recent publication sociologist Anthony Abela says young people in Malta are more interested in causes than in working in traditional church or village organizations

I think his findings are borne out by the way Inizjamed operates because we are project based. We don’t have a membership, or a list of members – but people who believe in what they’re doing and who are ready to commit themselves to very clear projects, which have post-materialist aims. I work at Junior College and I find that in some ways my students are rather conservative. But then we work in an educational system that suppresses creativity and initiative, and students perhaps deliver what they think is expected of them. Inside the classroom they have little space and time to be themselves. This is especially true up to secondary school. I think that at post secondary level we offer them that space but by that time we’ve killed all the creativity off: we’ve alienated them so much in the Marxist sense.

  • Have you got any other interesting projects?

Apart from Gzejjer, Inizjamed will continue working on its “Shaba Gawwi” project, a two year multi-disciplinary project inspired by Marianu Vella’s gull poems; participation in the Biennale Big Torino 2002. I am also coordinating a  year long project called Ritmi which has two aims: to raise funds for the Third World Group and to offer a cultural alternative.  The project is literally based on rhythm, on percussion, on Renzo Spiteri. It will include Drum Circle workshops for the general public, the screening of films based on rhythm and music in general,  and the organization of  a big cultural event next year. We’ll be using Fair Trade musical instruments from L-Arka. The Ritmi project also includes music workshops for the children we work with in Valletta. We’re bringing many of the instruments directly from Ghana.

 

The Malta Independent on Sunday

12 August, 2001


 

“Gżejjer” fl-Aħħar Ġimgħa ta’ Lulju
Adrian Grima intervistat minn Sergio Grech

  • X'inhu l-proġett “Gżejjer”?

“Gżejjer” huwa proġett marbut mat-taħriġ fil-kitba kreattiva. Lejn tmiem is-sena elfejn, aħna, bħala awturi fi ħdan Inizjamed, bdejna niltaqgħu bejnietna biex infasslu programm, jew aħjar proċess flimkien. L-idea li ħriġna biha kienet li nibnu sensiela ta’ kitbiet ispirati mill-ħrejjef tradizzjonali Maltin kif ġabarhom Manwel Magri, għalkemm aħna konxji li jeżistu ġabriet oħra. Għażilna l-ħrejjef għax inħossu l-ħtieġa li nesploraw il-memorja kulturali tagħna bħala Maltin u bħala Mediterranji, memorja li l-edukazzjoni Anglo-Amerikana tagħna qiegħda toqtolha għax qiegħda tinjoraha. Ħassejna wkoll il-ħtieġa li nagħtu rilevanza ġdida lil din il-memorja.

Il-bidu ta’ dan il-proċess huwa marbut ma’ laqgħa li għaliha stedinna lil Trevor Żahra biex jitkellem dwar il-kitba tar-rumanz Is-Seba’ Tronġiet Mewwija. Kienet laqgħa li entużjażmat lil kulħadd. Trevor insista, bħalma jagħmlu l-kittieba serji kollha, li biex tikteb tajjeb trid tkun “qarrej klubi”.

Wara dik il-laqgħa nqsamna f’koppji, u kull koppja għażlet ħrafa u ħadmet fuqha. B’dan il-mod, spiċċajna b’żewġ “verżjonijiet” ġodda ta’ kull ħrafa. F’dan l-isfond iltqajna ma’ Ġorġ Mifsud-Chircop biex nistħarrġu aħjar id-dinja tal-ħrejjef Maltin, ħaġa li konna diġà bdejna nagħmlu permezz tar-riċerka tagħna f’kotba speċjalizzati. L-osservazzjonijiet siewja ta’ Ġorġ wasslu biex ħafna minna rrevedejna x-xogħol li konna ktibna; uħud minna kitbu x-xogħol tagħhom mill-ġdid.

Issa qiegħed isir ix-xogħol ta’ l-editing minn Stanley Borg. Se niġbru x-xogħlijiet kollha li ktibna, anki dawk li skartajna, biex inkunu nistgħu nanalizzaw il-proċess kollu. Ktibna wkoll kumment fuq il-proċess personali tagħna. Dan ix-xogħol ghalissa, mhemmx il-ħsieb li nippubblikawh għax l-iskop tiegħu mhuwiex dak.

Marbutin ma’ dan kollu hemm sensiela ta’ laqgħat (skambji) bejn kittieba nisa kkoordinati minn Karen Vella u Simone Inguanez, u kors għal min irid jikteb għat-tfal ikkoordinat minn Clare Azzopardi bl-għajnuna ta’ Ritianne Gatt u Trevor Żahra. Dawn jibdew f’Settembru.

  • Naf li din is-sena ser ikun hemm awtur barrani.

Fl-aħħar ġimgħa ta’ Lulju, bl-għajnuna imprezzabbli tal-British Council, Inizjamed se ġġib Malta lill-awtur żagħżugħ Skoċċiż Kevin MacNeil, rebbieħ is-sena l-oħra tal-Premju prestiġjuż Tivoli Europa Giovani bil-ktieb ta’ poeżiji Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate, 1998). Kevin għandu tliet impenji ewlenin f’Malta: se jmexxi sensiela ta’ erba’ workshops ta’ kitba kreattiva; se jitkellem f’laqgha pubblika dwar l-identità kulturali, u se jaqra x-xogħlijiet tiegħu waqt ir-rappreżentazzjoni letterarja bl-isem ta’ “Gżejjer”.


Kevin MacNeil huwa impjegat bħala awtur mill-Gvern Skoċċiż għaż-żona tal-Higħlands u ntgħażel bħala l-ewwel Iain Crichton Smith Writing Fellow (“writer in residence”). Huwa membru fundatur tat-“trip-hop poetry band” Tomorrowscope u f’Mejju ta’ din is-sena ħadem il-parti prinċipali f’film dwar poeta magħruf Skoċċiż.

  • Meta u fejn se jsiru l-attivitajiet li fihom se jieħu sehem MacNeil?

L-erba' workshops ta’ kitba kreattiva li jdumu bejn sagħtejn u sagħtejn u nofs se jsiru kuljum filgħodu bejn il-Ġimgħa 27 ta’ Lulju u t-Tnejn 30 ta’ Lulju; is-sessjonijiet jibdew fid-9.30am u se jsiru fit-teatru ta’ l-MITP fi Triq San Kristofru, il-Belt, bl-għajnuna tal-KKU. Dawn mhumiex se jkunu taħditiet jew diskussjonijiet iżda sessjonijiet li fihom l-awturi preżenti, bejn 12 u 15, ikunu jistgħu jitħarrġu fil-kitba u jiddiskutu x-xogħol tagħhom ma’ l-awtur Skoċċiż.
 

MacNeil għandu ħafna esperjenza fit-tmexxija ta’ workshops bħal dawn u qara l-poeżiji tiegħu fil-pubbliku f’għadd ta’ okkażjonijiet u f’pajjiżi differenti. Fil-fatt għadu kemm irritorna l-Iskozja wara li ħa sehem fil-ħdax-il edizzjoni tal-Festival Internazzjonali tal-Poeżija ta' Medellin ġewwa l-Kolombja.
 

Il-Ġimgħa 27 ta’ Lulju, fit-8.00pm, fit-teatru ta’ Bay Street, f’Paceville, Kevin MacNeil se jieħu sehem f’laqgħa pubblika dwar l-identità kulturali u se jitkellem dwar il-fehmiet u l-inizjattivi tiegħu f’dan il-qasam. Hu għandu MA fl-Etnoloġija Skoċċiża u jaħdem bis-sħiħ favur it-tiġdid tal-kultura Skoċċiża.


It-Tlieta, 31 ta’ Lulju, fid-8.45pm, Kevin MacNeil se jkun il-mistieden ewlieni f’rappreżentazzjoni letterarja mnebbħa mit-tema tal-“Gżejjer”. Fil-lejla se jieħdu sehem l-atturi Marcelle Teuma u Ray Calleja, il-perkussjonista Renzo Spiteri, is-sassofonista li studja Franza Joseph Vella, u l-kantanta Nadine Axisa. Se jiġu ppreżentati 19-il xogħol letterarju ġdid imnebbaħ mit-tema tal-“gżejjer” – fost l-awturi hemm Victor Fenech, Trevor Żahra, Maria Grech Ganado, Immanuel Mifsud, Henry Holland, Simone Inguanez, Bernard Cauchi, Stanley Borg, Karsten Xuereb, Clare Azzopardi, Leslie Vassallo, u oħrajn. Se nippreżentaw ukoll għall-ewwel darba għadd ta’ traduzzjonijiet għall-Malti ta’ xogħlijiet ta’ Kevin.


Dawk li jixtiequ jibbukkjaw għall-erba' workshops (ħlas ta’ Lm8 għas-sessjonijiet kollha) għandhom jibagħtu messaġġ minnufih lil inizjamed@email.com.

  • Għaliex qegħdin terġgħu taqbdu t-tema tal-Mediterran?

Minkejja l-ħafna xogħol li għamilna bħala Inizjamed fuq it-tema tal-Mediterran fis-sentejn u nofs li għaddew, tant hemm xi jsir li nħossni li għadna bilkemm bdejna. L-edukazzjoni anglo-amerikana u ewro-ċentrika li qegħdin nagħtu u nirċievu qatgħetna mid-dinja tal-Mediterran, mir-realtajiet soċjali, ambjentali, politiċi u kulturali tal-Mediterran, mill-wirt, mill-memorja kollettiva ta’ dan ir-reġjun. Tant aħna maqtugħin minnu r-reġjun li qabel ma nibdew nistħarrġuh ma nistgħu qatt nirrealizzaw x’qed nitilfu, kemm qed infaqqru lilna nfusna.


Kevin MacNeil jaf li hemm tradizzjonalisti fost il-ġens tiegħu li ma jaqblux ma’ l-esperimenti tiegħu, ngħidu aħna mal-mod kif qiegħed jesperimenta bil-forma tradizzjonali u kantabbli tal-poeżija Gallika. Imma hu jħoss li għandu jżid mat-tradizzjoni letterarja tal-Highlands, mhux jorbot għal kollox fuqha. Is-suċċess tiegħu bħala kittieb fl-Ewropa juri li l-inizjattivi tiegħu f’ħafna oqsma tal-kultura qegħdin jintlaqgħu tajjeb. Bil-mod tagħna, aħna qegħdin nippruvaw nagħmlu l-istess, u nemmen li x-xogħlijiet u l-attivitajiet li se nippreżentaw fl-aħħar ġimgħa ta’ Lulju se jikkonfermaw li dan it-tiġdid kulturali maħsub jista’ jirnexxi f’Malta wkoll.

  • Dan kollu kif jinkwadra fid-diskors kważi nawżjanti dwar L-Ewropa/Svizzera fil-Mediterran?

Sergio, kif għedt drabi oħra, inħoss li fejn tidħol l-identità kulturali tagħna bħala poplu, id-dħul jew le ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea huwa irrelevanti. Nirrealizza li qed ngħid xi ħaġa li tista’ tinstema’ assurda, imma l-verità hi li ħafna Maltin, speċjalment dawk li għandhom f’idejhom il-mezzi ta’ l-edukazzjoni u l-promozzjoni tal-kultura, jiġifieri l-għalliema, ix-xandâra, il-politiċi, u l-ġurnalisti, jew jiġu jaqgħu u jqumu mid-diversità kulturali jew huma sempliċimenti inkompetenti f’dan il-qasam. Jekk tħares lejn il-biċċa l-kbira ta’ l-opinjonisti li jimlew il-gazzetti u l-istazzjonijiet lokali, ftit li xejn tiltaqa’ ma’ diskors kulturali alternattiv għall-kredijiet li begħitilna l-globalizzazzjoni ekonomika/kulturali.
 

Tgħid x’tgħid l-Unjoni Ewropa fuq il-kultura (fil-fatt l-UE tħalli l-politika kulturali tista’ tgħid f’idejn il-pajjiżi membri, għalkemm tinkoraġġixxi d-diversità), il-Maltin se jibqgħu jagħtu bis-sieq lir-reġjun tagħhom (2% biss mill-Maltin iħossuhom primarjament ċittadini tal-Mediterran – kontra t-22% fi Spanja) u jidentifikaw ruħhom ma’ l-Ewropa (in ġenerali).


L-Ewropej mhux se jiġu hawn biex isalvaw il-kultura/i tagħna: u kieku jiġu ma jirnexxilhomx, għax fejn tidħol il-kultura, l-impożizzjoni sikwit ikollha l-effett kuntrarju. Is-sehem tagħna fi programmi ta’ l-UE bħal Kultura 2000 jista’ jkun inċentiv tajjeb għat-tiġdid kulturali, imma l-inizjattivi aħna l-Maltin rridu noħorġu bihom. U la m’aħniex konvinti...

  • Il-Mediterran hu reġjun ta' wġigħ ta' ras. Taqbel?

Le, ma naqbilx. Fis-sens li hemm kunflitti fil-Mediterran daqskemm hemm f’reġjuni oħrajn. Id-demonizzazzjoni tal-qagħda fil-Mediterran hija waħda mis-simplifikazzjonijiet tal-mezzi tax-xandir internazzjonali li jiddemonizzaw lill-“oħrajn”, lil dawk li mhumiex bħalhom. Hemm strateġija sħiħa wara dawn il-ġeneralizzazzjonijiet faċli, strateġija li tista’ tkun konxja u tista’ ma tkunx, imma strateġija li żgur li taqdi tajjeb lil dawk li jippreżentaw ruħhom, bħall-Amerikani, bħala s-salvaturi tad-dinja, bħala nies bilanċjati, moderati, oġġettivi.

Il-Mediterran huwa reġjun bi storja ta’ kunflitt u ftehim, ta’ koeżistenza u firda, ta’ fallimenti u suċċessi kbar. Imma jekk nesponu ruħna biss għal dak li jgħidu s-CNN jew “l-opinjonisti” tagħna, bilfors niddemonizzaw il-Mediterran. Huma hekk jagħmlu għax mhux kapaċi u ma jridux jagħmlu aħjar minn hekk.

LI tkun Mediterranju, kif jgħid Matvejevic hija għażla. U Inizjamed l-għażliet tagħha qiegħda tagħmilhom. Fl-aħħar ġimgħa ta’ Lulju sejrin nipproponuhom lill-pubbliku Malti. Imbagħad dawk kollha li jattendu jistgħu jagħmlu l-għażliet tagħhom huma wkoll. (Li ma tiġix jew ma tagħtix kas hija għażla wkoll, però.)

L-20 ta’ Ġunju, 2001
 


 

Il-Poeżija Li Tikkontesta

Intervista ta' Sergio Grech

 

 

Adrian Grima għadu kemm rebaħ it-tieni post fil-Premju Tivoli Europa Giovani mniedi mill-għaqda kulturali "Allegorein" ta' l-Italja bil-patroċinju tal-Unesco, tal-Presidenza tal-Kunsill tal-Ministri Taljan, tal-Ministeru tal-Kultura Taljan u tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea. Il-Premju ta' din is-sena ntrebaħ mill-Iskoċċiż Kevin MacNeil bil-ktieb, Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides.

  • Xi jfisser għalik dan il-Premju?

Ifisser ħafna. Fost il-ġurati kien hemm nies bħal Vincenzo Cerami, kittieb flimkien ma' Roberto Benigni ta' La Vita è Bella u għalhekk rebbieħ tal-Premju Oscar għall-aħjar screenplay. Il-president tal-ġurija kien Tullio De Mauro, studjuż ewlieni ta' l-istorja tal-lingwa Taljana u professur tal-lingwistika ġenerali fl-Università La Sapienza ta' Ruma, li għadu kemm inħatar Ministru ta' l-Edukazzjoni fil-gvern il-ġdid ta' Amato. Kien hemm ukoll Alberto Scarponi, Segretarju Ġenerali tal-Union tal-Kittieba Taljani, Armando Gnisci, professur tal-letteratura komparata li ppubblika għadd ta' kotba u jaħdem bis-sħiħ fil-qasam ta' l-interkulturalità, il-professur Filippo Bettini, l-awtur Mario Lunetta, u ħames ġurati oħra.

Dan il-Premju jingħata lil ktieb tal-poeżija (miktub minn persuna li ma tkunx qabżet is-36 sena) u mhux lil poeżija waħda. Jieħdu sehem fih awturi mill-Ewropa kollha u ilu jsir tliet snin. Bħal fl-ewwel żewġ edizzjonijiet tiegħu, l-għażla ta' min se jirrappreżenta lil Malta kienet f'idejn Dr. Arnold Cassola. Lejn tmiem l-1999 qalli li xtaq jinnomina lill-ktieb tiegħi It-Trumbettier (minkejja li fl-istampa lokali dehret reċensjoni waħda biss tiegħu) u jien komplejt nittraduċi xi poeżiji mill-ktieb għat-Taljan ma' Sandro Caruana. Qabel kont ġa ttraduċejt erba' poeżiji ma' Patrick Sammut li tnejn minnhom ippubblikathom il-Mesogea f'Lingue di Terra Lingue di Mare, antoloġija ta' kitba mediterranja editjata minn Costanza Ferrini. Lill-ġurija bgħattilha l-ktieb (41 poeżija bil-Malti bi traduzzjonijiet għall-Ingliż tiegħi flimkien ma' Peter Serracino Inglott u bi tpinġijiet ta' Adrian Mamo u Raphael Vella) u erbatax-il poeżija tradotti għat-Taljan.

Fost l-għanijiet ta' dan il-Premju hemm dak li jappoġġja l-kulturi ż-"żgħar" ta' l-Ewropa u jagħtihom il-prominenza li ħafna drabi jċaħħduhom minnha l-mezzi tax-xandir li jinsabu f'idejn ftit nies b'poter ekonomiku kbir. Għaldaqstant, ir-rebbieħ tal-Premju ta' din is-sena, Kevin MacNeil, huwa mniżżel bħala rappreżentant ta' l-Iskozja, mhux tar-Renju Unit. Fl-istess ħin, il-promoturi ewlenin ta' dan il-Premju (Tullio De Mauro, Filippo Bettini u Armando Gnisci) jinsistu fuq il-ħtieġa tat-traduzzjoni, biex id-diversità lingwistika u kulturali li teżisti fl-Ewropa ma toħloqx firda imma tippromwovi t-taħlit kreattiv bejn il-kulturi.

Fl-aħħarnett, dan il-Premju huwa att ta' solidarjetà konkreta fih innifsu. Nofs il-flus marbutin mar-rebħ ta' dan il-Premju jintużaw biex isir xogħol ta' restawr f'bini jew f'opri li għandhom valur kulturali kbir f'pajjiż Ewropew milqut mill-gwerra jew mill-faqar. Ngħidu aħna fis-snin li għaddew inxtraw kotba u kompjuter għall-Biblijoteka ta' Elbasan fl-Albanija li kienet inħarqet.

  • It-Trumbettier, l-ewwel ġabra ta' poeżiji tiegħek, hu politiku minn fuq s'isfel. Għaliex din l-enfasi kollha fuq il-letteratura politika? Mhux xorta d-dinja ser tibqa' kif sibtha?

Fl-aħħar intervista li ta f'Mejju ta' l-1968, il-poeta Sqalli Salvatore Quasimodo, rebbieħ tal-Premju Nobel għal-Letteratura fl-1959, jistqarr li "ma teżistix opra ta' l-arti li mhix protesta kontra s-soċjetà kostitwita". Il-kittieba huma dejjem f'pożizzjoni ta' kunflitt ma' soċjetà li ma tistax togħġobhom "minħabba l-konformiżmu u l-ipokrezija politika, kemm dik tal-borgeżija kif ukoll dik neokapitalistika li tiffanfra bil-progress teknoloġiku".

L-eżilju tal-poeti u n-narraturi huwa "awtentiku", huwa "tradizzjoni fis-sekli". Mhuwiex l-eżilju, jgħid Quasimodo, tal-letterati mdawlin mitlufin fil-kontemplazzjoni tal-Plejadi, tal-kwiekeb, imma huwa iżolament ikkawżat mill-ostilità tal-poter politiku, iżolament minħabba "azzjonijiet ambigwi" u kontra propaganda umanitarja u paċifista falza. Is-sehem tal-kittieba fil-politika bilfors irid ikun kontestatorju, għax huma jinsabu dejjem fuq "in-naħa l-oħra", in-naħa opposta tal-politiċi li moħħhom biex jagħlqu lill-bnedmin "in una misura esterna", f'qies li jinsab 'il barra minnhom.

Il-kittieba li jinteressaw lil Quasimodo, minn Dante sa Dostoevskij, huma kittieba li minn dejjem kienu fuq quddiem nett fil-"kontestazzjoni", f'taqbida kontinwa mal-"privileġġi u l-iżbalji ta' soċjetà f'orgażmu għall-konservazzjoni klassistika". Min-naħa l-oħra, Quasimodo jistqarr li l-impenn m'għandux jitqiegħed bħala kundizzjoni għal kull kitba letterarja oriġinali, għax il-kontestazzjoni hija "djalettika" (jew dibattitu) u "mhux korp li persuna tersaq lejh fl-astratt". Il-kittieba għandhom joqogħdu attenti mir-"retorika tal-protesta", minn dawk li jilbsu l-kostum tal-protesta.

Il-kapitaliżmu jagħmel minn kollox biex jassimila, biex jikkapparra l-protesta qabel ma titwieled; jagħsarha qabel ma jagħtiha l-possibilità li tiddiskuti; itellfilha l-attenzjoni mill-kontenut bil-"miraġġ ta' l-esperimenti fil-laboratorji bil-bibien magħluqa", fil-formaliżmi. L-artisti jagħmlu "x-xogħol kontestatorju tagħhom bil-mezzi kollha li tagħtihom il-preżenza tagħhom fis-soċjetà".

Waqt it-tnedija ta' It-Trumbettier Patri Ġwann Xerri, attivist magħruf favur id-drittijiet tan-nies li jbatu inġustizzji kbar, f'pajjiżi bħall-Brażil, il-Messiku u t-Timor tal-Lvant, tkellem dwar l-att letterarju bħala att politiku fih innifsu. U Jelson Oliveira, poeta żagħżugħ Brażiljan li intervistajt m'ilux u li jaħdem bis-sħiħ favur id-drittijiet tan-nies bla art (is-sem terra) f'pajjiżu, jgħid li l-letteratura għandha tkun impenjata bil-ħajja, għandha tittraduċi l-ħsus tal-ħajja. U meta l-ħajja tmut, meta n-nies jinqatlu, meta jkun hemm il-vjolenza, il-letteratura għandha tittraduċi dawn il-ħsus, dawn is-sitwazzjonijiet.

Fuq il-qoxra ta' wara ta' It-Trumbettier il-ħabib tiegħi Marco Galea kiteb hekk: "Jekk il-marka ta' poeta tajjeb hi li jikteb tajjeb dwar għadd ta' temi differenti, naħseb li Grima huwa poeta tajjeb ħafna. Jirnexxilu jikteb dwar l-imħabba, dwar il-mewt, dwar il-ħajja soċjali ta' pajjiżna u dwar il-politika dinjija u jkun konvinċenti dejjem. Is-sigriet aktarx jinsab fil-fatt li l-poeta ma jihux lilu nnifsu bis-serjetà wisq u ma jaħlix wisq kliem jitkellem dwaru nnifsu."

  • Fl-attivitajiet li torganizza, ngħidu aħna l-aħħar waħda "Fabbrikazzjoni" f'Jum iż-Úgħażagħ 2000, dejjem tuża l-poeżija u l-letteratura biex twassal messaġġ. Ma taħsibx li dan jispiċċa eżerċizzju propagandistiku? Ma tħossokx beżgħan li l-messaġġ ma jasalx meta tqis li l-interess fil-letteratura qalb dan il-poplu hu negliġibbli?

Tista' tgħid l-inizjattivi kollha li jien involut fihom norganizzahom flimkien ma' għadd ta' nies oħrajn. L-ebda waħda minnhom, iktar u iktar "Fabbrikazzjoni", ma organizzajtha "jien". Meta naħdmu flimkien, nitgħallmu ħafna minn xulxin. Dan mhuwiex punt inċidentali - dan huwa punt ċentrali għalija. Is-soċjetà tagħna qed issir iktar u iktar individwalista. Dan huwa fatt soċjoloġiku, mhux nostalġija għal passat idealizzat. It-tentattiv tiegħi u tal-grupp ta' awturi oħrajn li naħdmu flimkien huwa interessanti għax qegħdin nipprovaw noħolqu proġetti "letterarji" msejsin fuq proċess flimkien. Mhux faċli, kemm għax għandna esperjenzi u perspettivi differenti, kif ukoll għax aħna kittieba, u l-kitba fiha nfisha hija attività ta' persuna waħedha.  

Imma l-affarijiet mexjin. "Fabbrikazzjoni" hija eżempju tajjeb ta' dak li qed nippruvaw nagħmlu fil-grupp "letteraturaimpenjata.com" li huwa parti mill-inizjattiva kulturali mediterranja Inizjamed li waqqafna fl-1998. Ridna li noħolqu proġett artistiku dwar iż-żgħażagħ fil-fabbriki flimkien magħhom. L-ewwel preżentazzjoni saret bl-għajnuna tas-Segretarjat Parlamentari għaż-Úgħażagħ fit-18 ta' Marzu, ġo Misraħ il-Óelsien. Issa nixtiequ nsaħħu dak il-proċess, ninvolvu lil artisti minn oqsma differenti, naħsmu iżjed mill-qrib mal-ħaddiema żgħażagħ tal-fabbriki u fuq kollox nirfinaw il-kitba tagħna, għax wara kollox, kif jgħid Mallarmé, il-letteratura ma ssirx bl-ideat, issir bil-kliem. Fl-aħħar mill-aħħar, l-isfida tagħna bħala kittieba hija li nħaddmu l-kelma tajjeb. 

L-iskopijiet tagħna jmorru lilhinn mill-"messaġġ": aħna nixtiequ nwasslu esperjenzi, nitkellmu dwar ġrajjiet individwali, u nesperimentaw b'forom letterarji u artistiċi li jesprimu dawn l-esperjenzi u jilħqu lin-nies b'mod effettiv.

L-interess tal-pubbliku Malti fil-letteratura m'huwiex "negliġibbli". Dan huwa diskors kumpless ħafna. Hawn ħafna Maltin li jaqraw letteratura ta' kwalità, imma mhux biżżejjed li jaqraw bil-Malti, kemm għax tagħna hija letteratura żgħira u kemm għax jeżistu preġudizzji stupidi dwar il-lingwa Maltija u l-prodott Malti b'mod ġenerali. Nissuspetta wkoll li għandna faxxa sħiħa ta' qarrejja li jippreferu jaqraw bil-Malti li mhumiex imħarrġin biżżejjed bħala qarrejja. Anki l-qari huwa arti. Spiċċa ż-żmien li nitkellmu dwar ktieb bħallikieku jeżisti waħdu, realtà fissa li tista' tiddefiniha u tirriduċiha għal sett ta' elementi. Il-verità hi li l-ktieb, biex ngħidha b'mod daqsxejn goff, "jiktbuh" il-qarrejja tiegħu, kull qarrej u qarrejja bil-mod uniku tagħhom. Ir-rwol tal-qarrejja huwa determinanti.

Reċentement irċevejt xi materjal artistiku minn radju indipendenti ewlieni fil-Jugoslavja, Free B92, xogħol magħmul miċ-Ċentru għall-Arti Kontemporanja bħala parti minn proġett jismu "The Reality Check". Fost il-55 stqarrija ta' Friedrich Dürrematt li jikkwotaw, hemm hekk: "Kull xogħol ta' l-arti huwa suġġettiv. Ir-realtà li jirrappreżenta kull xogħol artistiku hija 'realtà suġġettiva'." "Kull 'realtà suġġettiva' tinsab fir-realtà." "Impossibbli li xogħol ta' l-arti joħroġ 'il barra mir-realtà." "Ix-xogħol tas-soċjetà huwa li tiskopri r-realtà tagħha f'xogħol ta' l-arti." Altru li r-rwol tal-qarrejja, jew ta' l-udjenza, huwa passiv.

Naturalment hemm sfida oħra li tinteressa lil kull kittieb u kittieba direttament, dik li l-letteratura tagħna tkun tajba u rilevanti. Nistgħu nagħmlu mitt elf lejla letterarja u noħorġu mitt elf antoloġija: jekk ma naħdmux fuq is-sengħa tal-kitba, bħalma l-ħaddiema jitkissru fuq il-magna tagħhom, ma nistgħux nipproduċu xogħol ta' livell li jkun jistħoqqlu r-rispett ta' ħaddieħor.

  • Taħseb li l-awturi lokali qed jiktbu dwar temi u jinqdew bi stili li qed jinqdew bihom l-awturi barranin? Jew għadna wisq parrokkjali?

Kull ġenerazzjoni, jgħid Quasimodo, għandha "l-problema tal-lingwaġġ", l-isfida li ssib il-lingwaġġ tagħha. Dan il-lingwaġġ jista' jkompli ma' l-istituzzjonijiet kulturali u letterarji li kien hemm qabel, iżda jista' wkoll imur kontrieh. L-awturi l-ġodda jridu jfittxu lingwaġġ, imma din ir-riċerka tagħhom m'għandhiex tkun sempliċiment eżerċizzju lingwistiku. F'dan is-sens, nara rilevanti l-ħsieb ta' Jelson li l-poeti jridu jkunu impenjati, engagé bil-ħajja, u li l-kitba tagħhom trid "turi" l-ħajja. Quasimodo jemmen li għandna nitkellmu dwar individwalità poetika mhux dwar skejjel poetiċi. Il-poeti huma dawk li "jilħqu l-kuxjenza umana, għan etiku li jissarraf f'komunikazzjoni".

Quasimodo jistqarr ukoll li l-poeta jsir internazzjonali meta "jesprimi n-nies" tan-nazzjon tiegħu, mhux f'sens provinċjali ovvjament. Wieħed mill-kotba ta' Julia Kristeva għandu titlu li jiswa mitqlu deheb: Nations Without Nationalism, nazzjonijiet iva, imma mingħajr nazzjonaliżmu, mingħajr parrokkjaliżmu.

F'Malta għandna awturi (dawn jeżistu kullimkien) li jirriċiklaw b'mod fqir il-lingwaġġ ta' l-awturi li stabbilew ruħhom qabilhom u jgħixu fl-illużjoni komda li qegħdin jesperimentaw jew jipprovdu l-ilma tal-ħajja. U għandna awturi oħrajn li jiktbu mod u jaġixxu mod ieħor. Ngħidu aħna, jikkundannaw l-establishment u mbagħad isiru establishment. Jiġifieri bħal ħafna psewdo-politiċi u psewdo-ġurnalisti, jistabbilixxu ruħhom permezz tal-kontestazzjoni biex imbagħad joqogħdu jgawdu l-frott bnin ta' l-affermazzjoni "kontestatorja" tagħhom billi jerdgħu mill-istituzzjonijiet li kkontestaw fil-passat u li sikwit jibqgħu, b'mod vojt, jikkontestaw.

Il-ġenerazzjoni l-ġdida ta' awturi m'għandhiex tfittex li tirriproduċu l-letteratura li rnexxiet fl-imgħoddi, imma li toħloq letteratura tagħha li tirrifletti u fl-istess ħin tisfida u tikkontesta l-esperjenzi tagħna ta' llum.

  • Naf li inti interessat ħafna fil-kunċett tal-Mediterran. X'tikkummenta?

F'waħda mill-iktar siltiet interessanti u provokattivi tal-ktieb tiegħu, Mediterraneo - Un Nuovo Breviario, Predrag Matvejevic jgħid li l-"mediterranjetà" mhix xi ħaġa li tiret imma xi ħaġa li tikseb; mhix vantaġġ imma deċiżjoni. Li tkun mediterranju jew mediterranja hija għażla. Malta qed tagħżel, bl-iktar mod ċar, li ma tkunx. Minkejja li aħna mgħarrqin fil-Mediterran u dak kollu li nassoċjaw miegħu, l-aspirazzjonijiet tagħna bħala poplu jinsabu fl-Ewropa jew fid-dinja virtwali ta' l-Istati Uniti li qegħdin ibellgħulna mill-mezzi tax-xandir.

Il-fatt hu li Malta teħtieġ tiġdid kulturali mill-qiegħ. Kif? Il-ħsieb wara dan il-Premju huma indikazzjoni. Fil-Mediterran qed jittieħdu ħafna inizjattivi kulturali, politiċi, ambjentali u soċjali li permezz tagħhom il-Mediterranji qegħdin iġeddu l-wirt għani li għandhom u joħorġu bi proposti interessanti għall-preżent u l-futur. Ngħidu aħna f'diskors li għamlet dan l-aħħar f'Malta, l-istudjuża żagħżugħa Elisabetta Bucolo tkellmet dwar il-mod kif matul iż-żminijiet, il-komunitajiet tradizzjonali fil-Mediterran ħolqu ekonomija li fiha l-persuni u r-relazzjonijiet bejniethom jiġu qabel il-prodott innifsu jew il-funzjoni tal-persuna fit-transazzjoni ekonomika. Hija tip ta' ekonomija li tirrispetta lill-bnedmin u lill-ambjent bil-wisq iktar mill-ekonomija tas-suq. L-ekonomija solidali moderna tista' tqabbad ma' dawn l-għeruq fondi li diġà jeżistu u toffri alternattiva reali u konkreta għall-isqaq magħluq ta' l-ekonomija tas-suq.

Fi ktieb qawwi bl-isem ta' Lo Sviluppo Insostenibile. La crisi del capitalismo nelle aree periferiche: il caso del Mezzogiorno, il-ħabib tiegħi Tonino Perna jisħaq li wasal iż-żmien li n-Nofsinhar ta' l-Italja jerġa' lura lejn il-Mediterran. Kulma jmur, il-Mezzogiorno qiegħed jintegra ruħu ma' l-inħawi b'saħħithom tan-Naħa ta' Fuq u jnaqqas l-iskambju ekonomiku tiegħu mal-pajjiżi tal-Mediterran. Fuq il-livell kulturali, l-omologazzjoni tal-ġenerazzjonijiet il-ġodda qatgħethom sew mill-"għeruq" Mediterranji tal-kultura tan-Nofsinhar u din il-ħarba mill-Mediterran żiedet fil-pass tagħha minħabba l-ideoloġija ewroċentrika.

F'Malta l-qagħda hija simili, bid-differenza importanti li fin-nofsinhar ta' l-Italja hemm ħafna inizjattivi interessanti ta' tiġdid kulturali waqt li f'Malta dawn l-inizjattivi huma ftit u la għandhom għeruq fondi u lanqas appoġġ popolari.

Dan it-tiġdid irid jiġi minna. F'dan is-sens, il-kwistjoni tar-relazzjonijiet ta' Malta ma' l-UE hija kwistjoni "falza". Nidħlu jew ma nidħlux, nistgħu nagħżlu (kif qed nagħżlu bħalissa - biżżejjed tħares lejn il-ġennata tal-korsa tal-golf jew l-istat tal-Malti) li nibqgħu neqirdu l-wirt ambjentali u kulturali tagħna.

Kultant nissuspetta li d-diskussjoni dwar l-UE imponejnieha fuqna nfusna biex inserrħu l-kuxjenza li kwistjonijiet serji dwar il-kummerċ, dwar il-kultura u dwar l-ambjent qegħdin (speċi ta') niddiskutuhom. Hija ħasra kbira li l-partiti l-kbar m'għandhomx il-ħila joħolqu ambjent ta' diskussjoni li jirrifletti l-firxa u l-kumplessità ta' l-għażliet li għandna quddiema, għażliet li għandhom x'jaqsmu, imma li jmorru wkoll lilhinn, mis-sħubija fl-UE. Nissuspetta li l-partiti l-kbar ma jafux jaraw l-affarijiet mod ieħor, jiġifieri b'modi li jmorru lilhinn mis-simplifikazzjonijiet redikoli ta' tajba/ħażina, jaqbel/ma jaqbilx, nidħlu/ma nidħlux, u l-bqija.

Id-deċiżjonijiet dwar il-kultura tagħna, u hawn nifhem kultura f'sens wiesa' ħafna, la jistgħu jiħduhom għalina minn Bruxelles u lanqas mill-Isvizzera. Nirrealizza li d-diskors dwar il-Mediterran u dwar il-kultura u l-identità huwa diskors kumpless ħafna. Iżda dad-diskors xi darba jrid jibda f'Malta, għax qabel ma nibdew nistħarrġu r-realtajiet ambjentali u kulturali mediterranji tagħna ma nistgħux nipproponu politika li tirrifletti l-wirt u l-potenzjal tagħna bħala individwi u bħala poplu.

 

Mejju, 2000


Ara wkoll l-intervista ta' Sergio Grech dwar Kitbiet mill-Mediterran

(It-30 ta' Awwissu, 2000)


Natasha Turner tintervista lil

Adrian Grima, Koordinatur ta’ Inizjamed

 

  1. Fejn twelidt ?

 

Twelidt Tas-Sliema, fl-Isptar tal-Blue Sisters, u sakemm iżżewwiġt dejjem għext il-Gżira. Imma ftit li xejn għext il-Gżira, biex ngħid hekk, apparti li kont immur nixtri l-ħobż, nisma’ l-quddies, u nirkeb il-private u tal-linja minn hemm.

 

  1. Kif kienet it-tfulija?

 

Missieri kien jgħid li kont qisni “mekkuk”; u ommi tgħid li ma kellix kwiet f’ġismi, li moħħi dejjem għaddej. Jien niftakarni nilgħab bil-karozzi u l-labar ta’ l-inxir fuq iċ-ċint tal-bejt. U bil-ballun. L-ikbar ħabib li kelli kien il-ballun; u l-ikbar għadu kien il-ħġieġ.

 

  1. Hemm xi esperjenza fit-tfulija li ħalliet effett fuqek?

 

Ma naħsibx li kien hemm xi esperjenza partikulari... Kont inħobb ħafna nilgħab il-futbol, nikkampja ma’ l-Iscouts, immur il-baħar, naqra, u ħwejjeġ bħal dawn. Ma naħsibx li kelli tfulija u familja differenti minn ta’ ħafna tfal oħra.

 

  1. X'inhuma l-passatempi?

 

Fil-prattika m’għandix passatempi. Ma tantx hemm differenza bejn ix-xogħol u l-ħin liberu tiegħi. Jien involut ħafna f’inizjattivi kulturali u soċjali li huma marbutin max-xogħol tiegħi bħala riċerkatur u għalliem. Nistrieħ tassew meta nsiefer, anki jekk immur konferenza akkademika jew laqgħat. Basta nsiefer. 

 

  1. X'ħajrek tibda tikteb?

 

M’għandix idea. Naħseb li fl-aħħar mill-aħħar jaffaxxinani l-kliem u dak li tista’ tagħmel bih. Il-letteratura hija l-arti tal-kliem mhux tal-ħsibijiet.

 

  1. Semmi xi suċċessi li kellek fil-kitba.

 

Fis-2000 il-ktieb tal-poeżiji tiegħi It-Trumbettier rebaħ it-tieni post fil-Premio Tivoli Europa Giovani. Naħseb l-isbaħ ħaġa dwar dan il-premju, apparti r-rikonoxximent internazzjonali, kienet li sirt naf lil Kevin MacNeil u lil Miro Villar, żewġ poeti u nies mill-aqwa.

 

F’Malta ġurija mmexxija minn Dr. Mario Tabone, it-tabib ta’ l-għajnejn, skwalifikat It-Trumbettier mill-Premju Letterarju Nazzjonali għax ma kienx fih biżżejjed paġni – ċajta tajba. Imma l-premju għallinqas intrebaħ minn min kien jistħoqqlu jirbaħ. Riċensjonijiet fl-istampa lokali kien hemm tnejn, fl-istess gazzetta!

 

  1. X'inhuma l-proġetti letterarji tiegħek?

 

Ħafna minn dak li nagħmel fil-kamp tal-letteratura nagħmlu ma’ sħabi ta’ Inizjamed u ma’ l-awturi li jikkollaboraw magħna. Jinteressani primarjament il-ħolqien ta’ lingwaġġi ġodda – kont ħdimt ħafna biex ktibt “Ftit Speranza”, storja li ppreżentajt waqt “Bliet (u Miti)” fil-Birgu f’Awwissu ta’ l-2002 – dik il-linja tinteressani – u issa, fl­-aħħar, għandi iktar ħin biex naqra.

 

Ħaġa li nħoss li tgħallimt hi li jiġu mumenti, perijodi, meta m’għandix nikteb – speċjalment, meta ma jkollix ċans naqra.

 

  1. Għandek xi diżappunti soċjali?

 

Xi jkunu?

 

  1. Kieku kellek poter kbir f'idek, x'kont tbiddel fis-soċjetà?

 

Għalija l-problema numru wieħed f’Malta hija l-mod kif nirrelataw ma’ l-ambjent, kollha kemm aħna. Dil-problema ma tistax issolviha biss billi tibgħat lis-Sur Anġlu Xuereb (u l-proġett tiegħu ta’ korsa tal-golf flok l-għelieqi) fuq btala twila ġot-Tibet mogħtija minn Tista’ Tkun Int – dik tgħin ħafna kieku – imma l-problema tinsab ukoll fina li nħallu kollox għaddej. Il-mentalità ebda poter ma jista’ jbiddilha – għal dak it-tip ta’ tibdil trid il-konvinzjoni, l-idejiet.

 

  1. Hemm xi messaġġ li trid twassal lis-soċjetà?

 

Le, ma naħsibx. Nista’ nħeġġeġ lil kulmin qed jaqra din il-gazzetta biex iżur il-ħanut tal-kummerċ ġust L-Arka, ta’ Triq San Pawl il-Belt, jew jara l-website www.maltaforum.org, jivvota lill-…, imma aħjar ma nagħmilx hekk.

 

Naħseb li fl-aħħar ta’ intervista, l-aqwa diskors jinsab f’dak li nagħmlu, mhux f’dak li ngħidu. Taqbel miegħi?

 

 

Il-31 ta' Lulju, 2003

 

Din l-intervista dehret bħala artiklu sħiħ fil-gazzetta ta' kull ġimgħa Fuq ix-Xarabank tat-Tnejn, 8 ta' Settembru, 2003


 

Spotlight on Adrian Grima…
Nadine Brincat
Published on the 30 September 2003, Klikka.net

Adrian Grima is the definition of a busy man. Apart from being a father of two adorable boys, he is also the Inizjamed co-ordinator, and co-ordinates the Third world group. In addition, Adrian's chosen profession is that of a teacher, and he lectures Maltese at Junior College and University. Adrian very kindly took some time out of his busy schedule for Klikka.net. Here's what he had to say…

What is your greatest achievement?
Adrian is a proud father of two, so clearly the birth of his eldest son Samwel figures high up in his list of greatest achievements. "It is an incredible moment, witnessing the birth of another human being. I was with my wife in the delivery room, and I was afraid that I would faint but I didn't," Adrian recounted, enthusiastically. "I felt that being there for Nathalie (my wife) was the least I could do in that tough moment. I actually got to see my son before she did," he explained, adding that everything else just fades into comparison.

Adrian also places great value on the setting up Inizjamed in 1998. "The cultural organisation has flourished well beyond the dreams of its founders, and has established important links with other organisations locally and abroad," Adrian explained, proudly adding that Inizjamen has given Maltese artists, especially writers the opportunity to grow and develop their talents. Another important milestone in Adrian's list of achievements is winning the second prize in an international poetry competition for young European poets, the Premio Tivoli Ewropa Giovani, as well as publishing a collection of poetry in 2000.

What were your worst and best subjects at school?
"My best subject was English. At secondary school I loved English and Maltese, in fact I chose both subjects at University, and I majored in Maltese Literature," Adrian enthused. What he termed as his most 'troubling subject' was physics, just like yours truly. "I had to work very hard to get through physics, in fact, I studied so much for it that I got an A after lots of private lessons," he revealed.

If you could meet a celebrity, who would you choose?
Adrian looks up to Vincenzo Cerami, who wrote La Vita é Bella and Kevin MacNeil; "I don't think that there's anyone else I would add to my list."

What was your first car?
"A Renault 4, painted orange, because I wanted something very particular. At the time, the car kind of represented me. Therefore I felt that I was loosing something when I sold it. I represented me far more than my current vehicle – a gray Diahtsu – does now," Adrian explained, stressing that he is not a car person. "I'm not the type of person to spend my Sunday mornings washing the car. In fact, I haven't washed it for some fifteen months. But it's getting on my nerves, so I'll probably wash it soon," he added, very seriously.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"There were so many of them," he sighed, rifling through the memories in his head's filing system and tapping on his chair. "I can't pin point a particular one, but I am sure that there have been many," Adrian said, stalling time for more reflection. Aha! The expression on his face signified that he had recalled a moment which would provide him with an answer to my question. "I once asked a group of actors, which I was co-ordinating to stage a particular piece, but ultimately I asked them not to perform it. After the first night I regretted it because it was the wrong thing to insist on. However, it's more of a regret than an embarrassing moment," Adrian reflected. "Bygones, it is when one works that one makes mistakes," he contemplated.

What is your favourite childhood memory?
Adrian loved playing football; "I remember football being a very colourful game as a child. We had this feeling of camaraderie, friendship and adventure." Adrian continued to practice the sport at school and university. "Nowadays, I am not a football fanatic and although I enjoy watching a good match, I often miss them because I forget. I'm not a team supporter, so I'm mostly interested in the proceedings of a game and the tactics used," he added.

What is your most annoying personality trait?

Adrian huffed, and pinched his lower lip between his forefinger and thumb, as he struggled to find a suitable answer. "Shyness: in my case it comes out in particular situation, not in class, but in other situations. I am generally the quiet type and I avoid social situations which make me feel uncomfortable," he confided.

Describe your ideal holiday

Adrian laughed upon hearing the question. "It would have to be with my family somewhere in the countryside with an element of ethnic or world music and different cultures," he listed. Adrian recalled a holiday to Machu Picchu; "It is a lovely place, it's much more beautiful than it is said to be. There's so much culture, and history, all situated in the mountains. It feels out of this world," he beamed.

What three things would you take with you on a desert island?
Adrian's first requirement was a book; "Nothing in particular, as long as its good and something which I haven't read yet. I'd also take a computer with Internet connection, which I am assuming is possible via satellite dish. Finally, I'd take a football with me, something with which to wile the time away, evidently purchased under fair trading conditions from L-Arka."

 

 
 
 
 

Circle of life

And the beat goes on. Children from Valletta are the main beneficiaries of Ritmi, a music project run by the Third World Group. Marika Azzopardi discovers how the beat of a drum can bring people together

Africa, its natural beauty, its people and their culture have inspired the arts and culture since time immemorial. This continent, the cradle of mankind’s very beginnings, was the main inspiration behind a local project run by the Third World Group known as Ritmi. The project began just over a year ago, in April 2001, and is itself part of an EU-sponsored project called ‘Rhythms for Life’.

‘It's been a very fruitful experience for all those involved,’ explained Adrian Grima from the Third World Group. Leading percussionist Renzo Spiteri and music therapist Rosetta De Battista are teaching a group of adolescents how to play the West African drum called the djembe. The sessions are being held at St. James Cavalier, where the management has been particularly supportive.

This project is all about bringing those who have been marginalised by circumstances and by society back to the centre, where we all belong. The main ‘instrument’ used is rhythm, because music and in particular percussion has the potential to show in a concrete way that all cultures, all sounds, all identities are equal and should be treated equally. The ‘Rhythms for Life’ project also actively promotes fair trade by using fair trade instruments. Both the issues of marginalisation and cultural diversity are profoundly European ones.

Renzo Spiteri has been contributing to the workshops in a hands-on manner as musical director. ‘The Valletta children were very eager about this new concept of making music and we did lure them out of their homes by playing in the street to let them listen to the fun which could be had.’

In this Pied Piper fashion, several children were prompted into willingly attending the various workshops organised for them. They were even keen on the idea of participating in a street performance.

‘These are usually children who have no idea what commitment is all about, but we were surprised to find them waiting for us before the workshops were to begin,’ Renzo explained. So far only girls have been involved in the groups, but the boys’ groups will be tackled next.

A series of adult drum circles were also made available to the general public as of last October, and the majority of people who participated had absolutely no musical know-how. They came from various backgrounds and ages ranged from 17 through to the late forties. The culmination of the workshops came with the experience of performing in front of a packed theatre during three concerts that were held in March at the MITP, Old University Theatre. The Ritmi concerts were also the culmination of a visit by Senegalese percussionist Moussé Ndiaye who had also led a number of drum workshops for students and for the general public.

Renzo describes his experience of the concerts as being: ‘a great sense of achievement all round. And working with Moussé Ndiaye was exceptional to say the least.’ Renzo met Moussé only days before the concerts were to take place. The Senegalese musician took to Renzo immediately, even going so far as saying that they must have known each other in a previous life, so great was their synchronicity. ‘From the first drum beat I felt immersed in a very beautiful moment in time. We played incredibly well together. Then in the concert itself, we were afraid that people would not participate fully, would not feel the vigour and energy released by the drums in chorus.’

Yet it all turned out a complete success with Moussé going so far as claiming that Renzo must have been born in the wrong place! Renzo’s keen interest in drums goes back to his school days when he began playing on a humble drum kit. Eventually he became interested in percussion and from the Valletta School of Music went on to the University of Malta to complete his studies, also studying in Milan. He has been involved in a long list of local and foreign concerts, film work, Voices choir and the National Orchestra.

Is it not a contradiction in terms that the Third World Group is concentrating on a local project and not living up to its name? Adrian explains that the Third World Group started off as the Third World Study and Action Group, but it soon developed into a more action-oriented group. ‘Over the years we have done voluntary work in a number of areas in Malta and abroad, working mostly in Italy, Egypt. London, Tunisia, and France. We have now been doing voluntary work in Valletta since 1989. At present there are about 40 people directly involved in the running of projects by the Third World Group, of all ages and from all walks of life.’

The group’s main projects are the Valletta project mentioned earlier, which includes the running of a literacy project (funded by Voices); a computer literacy project; the organisation of activities for children and adolescents; and of course ‘Rhythms for Life’. Then there is the Ritmi project, which is raising funds for the group's projects in Malta and providing promoting the cultural diversity of the South of the world. Another important project, co-funded by the EU, and run by a number of NGOs in the Mediterranean, is promoting sustainability in the region. The Third World Group is working on the promotion of fair trade in the Mediterranean through the fair trade co-operative, the only one in Malta which it set up in 1996, and which runs the fair trade shop L-Arka in St. Paul's Street, Valletta.

Adrian adds that they are planning to resume the Ritmi project for another year, since there has been a keen interest from the general public who participated so eagerly in the drum circles.

‘There is a lot that we need to learn from the Third World and from the people we work with in Malta. This should not be a one-way relationship. Our collaboration with Moussé Ndiaye is a prime example: he has provided us with a wealth of culture and music that has fascinated hundreds of Maltese people. We, on the other hand, would like to support Moussé in the running of the multicultural centre for mostly disadvantaged children and youth that he has set up in Dakar. The centre provides schooling in general and education about music and musical instruments. Perhaps the best way to see it is as a partnership.’ Adrian explained.

Although Malta is not a third world country, we can learn a great deal from people who are deprived of much that is basic and fundamental to their livelihood, and perhaps which we, in our modern life, do not even appreciate.

The Sunday Circle, May 9, 2002

 
 
 
  The Last Word  
 

Sharon Spiteri, The Times, Weekender July 21,2001

 

There is something outstanding about Adrian Grima. It must be the way he balances his dreams with down-to-earth living.

 

Poet Adrian Giima, 33, has a list of titles/roles which could easily link Malta to the Isle of Skye. As it happens, Adrian’s poetry is what linked the Scottish island to Malta, albeit unwittingly, through poet Kevin MacNeil, who is now living on Skye although born on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

 

When Adrian placed second in the Premio Tivoli Europa Giovani last year, it was to MacNeil’s first. And that is how they met. Adrian won the prize for his book of 41 poems in Maltese, published as It-Trumbettier (The Trumpeter) in 1999 with an English translation; MacNeil for his book Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides published in 1998 in English and Gaelic.

 

Apart from a teaching day job, Adrian is also co-founder and coordinator of Inizjamed (www.inizjamed.org), “a socially-committed organisation for the promotion of Maltese culture in the Mediterranean context.”

 

Inizjamed, in collaboration with the British Council, have organised two events. The first is a public discussion on cultural identity, Islands and Cultural Identity, led by the two poets. The second, themed Islands (Gżejjer), is a poetry reading of sorts. But don’t let that mislead you. With interpretations by actors Ray Calleja and Marcelle Teuma and singer Nadine Axisa accompanied by a litter of musicians, it promises to be anything but the childish sing-song you remember from school recitations.


 

When was the last time...

 

You cried?

 

I don't remember the last time I cried. I must have been a child. It's got nothing to do with my idea of how a man should behave, though. I know that there will be moments in the future when crying will be the only way to relieve the grief of bereavement.

 

You learnt something now?

 

That's an impossible question! I suppose I learn new things all the time, especially about myself. Everything and everyone around me teaches me about the world and about myself. Not least my two sons. I'm constantly learning from them.

 

You jumped for joy?

 

When I placed second in the Premio Tivoli Europa Giovani last year. I fluctuated between disbelief and screams of joy in rapid succession to my wife’s utter amazement. It was only a call to Arnold Cassola in Brussels which helped me reason things out. [Cassola nominated him for the prize.]

 

You let yourself down?

 

Yesterday. I ate too much. And I’d really like to control my diet. I’m gaining too much weight for my liking. And I let myself (and my children) down every time I lose my temper.

 

You felt trapped in a situation?

 

A few weeks ago I realised that I’m now planning as far ahead as September 2002. It’s nice to be involved in so many fascinating projects, quite a few of which I propose myself, but the thought of being ‘tied down’ for the next year or so makes me nervous.

 

You told a lie?

 

What's a lie?

 

You felt embarrassed?

 

A few years ago, we asked two musicians to play at one of our literary evenings. They can't have rehearsed... Anyway, it was a complete fiasco and extremely embarrassing but I probably suffered more trying to stop myself laughing my head off. It's a good thing nobody filmed the event for posterity.

 

You were with your family?

 

A few minutes ago. I'm very often with my wife and sons and I wouldn't like it any other way. But I'm also constantly rushing off to meetings and being chronically late.

 

You had a great night out?

 

One of the problems with having children is not being able to spend the night out. To me a good night out is dancing away to good music with my wife and friends. We had a great night out with Maltese and Italian friends in Messina on New Year’s Eve 2000 with live bands playing great music. My elder son Samwel slept through it all and my younger son Rafel enjoyed the music from inside the womb.

 

You got angry?

 

I’ll spare you the details. But I really get annoyed when people go back on their word and upset a whole lot of people and plans. I get angry when they try to manipulate your memory of earlier meetings. I’ve become very choosy about the people I work with: If people prove themselves unreliable or downright bitchy, I won’t work with them again, whoever they are.

 

You had a dream?

 

I have dreams all the time. In broad daylight. I dream of living on an island where people are more attached to the natural environment than to their mobile phone or car. I dream of a nation that is critically proud of itself, of its culture, of its language, of its heritage. I dream of a government run by experts in their respective fields, not by politicians. I dream of a proud Mediterranean Malta, bubbling with activity. I dream of doing research abroad...

 

You went shopping?

 

I don't often go shopping, except for books and that's quite often. I do remember walking around in the snow in Boulder, Colorado, last April, foraging for presents for my wife and children during a break from a conference on comparative literature. I remember it particularly because it was the first time I saw snow!

 

You read a book?

 

That's easy! Yesterday I finished reading On Identity by the famous Lebanese Paris-based novelist Amin Maalouf, a lucid inquiry into the precise meaning of identity, one of the most misapplied words and concepts in our language and one that has given rise to some of the most heated passions and crimes throughout history. I'll be referring to his book in the presentation on cultural identity I'm giving with Kevin MacNeil.

 

You watched a movie?

 

The last time I went to the cinema was before the birth of Rafel, who is now one. The last time I remembering watching a film, I was flying over the Atlantic and watching Billy Elliot.

 

You were inspired?

 

I’m very often inspired by friends and initiatives here in Malta. But I’m also very much inspired when I am with my ARCI friends in Italy. They manage to combine social and political commitment and intellectual activity in their cultural initiatives in such a significant way. Besides, nobody anywhere has supported Inizjamed more than ARCI. This year the people at the British Council have been great too. It’s such a lovely experience working with people who believe in you and in what you’re doing and give you their full support.

 

You suffered for your art?

 

All the time. Sponsors tend to be put off by the idea of an artistic or cultural event and we tend to find that we have to go it alone. At Inizjamed we are now working more on financing our own initiatives: you cannot put together something interesting without money. We know what we’re up against but we’re aware of our potential and very proud of what we’ve already achieved.

 
 
 
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