Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival

Ten Writers for Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival

Adrian Grima


Five foreign and four Maltese short story writers and poets will be participating in this year's third edition of the unconventional Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival at Couvre Porte in Birgu on Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th September, 2008. This is the only international literary festival of its kind in Malta. The readings start at 8.00pm and entrance to all events is free. Each evening will feature three different writers. This will also be a festival of languages, but many of the works will be read in Maltese and English.

 The invited writers are Greek novelist Chris Chryssopoulos, Moroccan poet Hassan el Ouazzani, Slovenian novelist and short story writer Polona Glavan, Palestinian writer and activist Suzan Sahori from Bethlehem, Icelandic poet and composer Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdson, Italian poet and performer Paola Turroni, poets Claudia Gauci, Simone Inguanez and Caldon Mercieca, and novelist, short story writer and poet Karl Schembri. 

The Maltese funk band Zizza Ensemble will be accompanying the authors in their readings on Saturday night. Some of the poets, who are performers in their own right, will be presenting their work through theatre and music during the festival.


The Festival coincides with a one-week residential literary translation workshop held in Malta in which the writers will translate each other’s works. Alexandra Büchler, professional translator and director of Literature Across Frontiers, will be in charge of the workshop.


 Short Stories, Poetry and Music Christos Chryssopoulos (1968) is a novelist, essayist and translator. He is among the most prolific young prose writers on the Greek literary scene. Chris has been featured in many anthologies of contemporary Greek fiction and writes regularly on literary theory for the journal Diavazo. He translates from English and also writes criticism for Athenian newspapers and magazines. He  has won a number of grants and has been invited to writers’ centres in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Russia, Scotland, the USA and Iceland. Hassan El Ouazzani (1970) is one of Morocco’s most important young poets. He belongs to the generation of poets who in the 1990s made the prose-poem leap into prominence in Moroccan poetry. This generation has effected a postmodern paradigm shift in the poetry scene in Morocco. Of him German poet Tobias Burghardt has written: “The poet, whose presence was noted at the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia, uses paradox to create a coherent poetic system.” El Ouazzani has participated in various international festivals of poetry, such as Medellin (Colombia), Trois-Rivières (Canada), Lodève (France), Maillorca, Istanbul, and London. Polona Glavan (1974) is a novelist, short story writer and translator from English. Her debut novel Noč v Evropi, (A Night in Europe) describes one of her many journeys, an Inter-Rail trip through Europe. By contrast, her second book, a collection of stories titled Gverilci focuses on everyday and seemingly commonplace themes such as family, children, young couples, city life; but hidden under this surface are acts of violence, sexual abuse, suicide and mental illness. With Gverilci, the author has entered the ranks of socially engaged writers, taking leave of minimalism and tackling a kind of writing that is both socially critical and warmly humorous.  

Claudia Gauci (1976) writes poetry in Maltese. She studied French and Maltese at the University of Malta and has worked as a teacher of French and as a translator. Her poetry has been published in F'Kull Belt hemm Kantuniera (Inizjamed, 2003), Ktieb għall-Ħruq (Inizjamed, 2005) and The Drunken Boat (USA), translated into English by Maria Grech Ganado. In 2005 she read her poetry in Naples.


 Simone Inguanez (1971) has published two collections of poetry, ftit mara ftit tifla (Klabb Kotba Maltin, 2005) and fire, water, earth and i, a short selection of her works translated into English (Inizjamed, Midsea Books) by Maria Grech Ganado. A number of her works have also appeared in anthologies, journals and similar publications, while others were set to music. She has read her work in Lodève, Naples, the USA, Riga (Latvia), Budapest and Lecce. Caldon Mercieca (1976) is co-founder of awl, a small independent publishing house specialising in contemporary Maltese poetry, with which he has released two poetry publications, Mogħlint (2002) and Majorkini (2003). During the past four years, his writing-cycles have become increasingly based on visual images and photography taken from catalogues of art exhibitions, fashion design and home decoration. He is active in theatre theory research in the context of The Icarus Performance Project Malta. He is currently finishing a cycle of writings based on etchings by symbolist Belgian artist Felicien Rops. The Palestinian writer and activist Suzan Sahori from Bethlehem documents the everyday lives of people she meets as a fair trader and as a social and cultural activist in Beit Sahour. Her writings, part journalistic, part literary, focus on the misery of common people rather than on the politics and history that have brought about that misery. An organization in Dublin is working on a publication which will bring together her writings about every day in Occupied Palestine. Many of these short pieces, similar to blog entries, are available on the US-based website Suzan Sahori is the International Relations Director of the Fair Trade Organization, The Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society. 

Karl Schembri (1978) is a Maltese poet, short story writer and editor of the independent weekly newspaper Malta Today. He is a sociology graduate from the University of Malta and has written a collection of short stories, Taħt il-Kappa tax-Xemx (Malta: Minima, 2002) and a novel, Il-Manifest tal-Killer (Malta: Choppy, 2006). In October 2008 Lemonhead Productions will present a stage adaptation of Il-Manifest tal-Killer. Adalsteinn Asberg Sigurdson (1955) was born in Húsavík, north Iceland, and grew up in the region. After attending the Commercial College of Iceland in Reykjavík, he studied Icelandic language, music and acting. In 1977 he made his literary debut with a book of poetry, Ósánar lendur (Virgin Soil). Since then he has published 12 books of poetry and translated poetry, one novel and 10 children´s books. Apart from the books he has produced many recordings of his lyrics and songs. His most recent books of poetry are Eyðibýli (Abandoned Farms) 2004, with photographs by Nökkvi Eliasson, and Hjartaborg (Borough of the Heart) 2007. Sigurdsson lives in Reykjavík as a full-time writer, songwriter and publisher of music and literature.  

 Paola Turroni (1971) was born in Monza, Italy where she studied the classics until she started to roam, to change lives and cities, for study and for the fun of it, until she settled in Luino on the Lago Maggiore. She holds cinema, communication and theatre workshops. She has collaborated, amongst others with Rai Radiodue and has read and performed in various cities and in Malta (Vers, 2004). Her work is based also on the search for effective ways to share poetry, both at a vocal-instrumental level as well as at performance level. She has published books of poetry and short stories. On Thursday 11 September, “Ħalib ix-Xitan” (“Hell’s Despite”), a short art film in Maltese directed by Jule Belami and produced by Dawwara Pictures will be shown in the same venue.  The Festival is being organized by Inizjamed and Literature Across Frontiers in collaboration with the Birgu Local Council and with support from the Malta Tourism Authority, the National Book Centre of Greece, and the Icelandic Literature Fund. Inizjamed is a co-organizer in the Literature Across Frontiers project which is part-financed by the Culture 2007 project of the EU. The FIVE project for intercultural dialogue and Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust made Suzan Sahori’s participation in this festival possible. For more information about the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival and the LAF International Literary Translation Workshop visit