Insa li Mhijiex Hawn is the title of Dr Norbert Bugeja’s new book of poetry. The book comes with a visual concept by artist Austin Camilleri and is published by Klabb Kotba Maltin. It is Bugeja’s third collection of poems in the Maltese language.
The poems in this book were penned over a two-year period, leading up to the twentieth year since the passing of the author’s mother. Bugeja’s verse is on a quest — that of find a language that may live up to the intensity of her absence. In these poems, Bugeja goes to the places this woman knew and lived — locations of stone, of sound, of memory, of noise, of silence and of love.
Along the way, Bugeja picks up the remnants of a conversation that ended abruptly at the turn of the century, and got lost in the midst of things. This is poetry born of those moments of hesitation that often take us unawares and in so doing, leave indelible marks on the unfolding of our lives.
The poems in Insa li Mhijiex Hawn capture the mood of a retrospect that never actually took place. Bugeja’s verse sounds the ways in which this woman might have aged, the features of her face as much as the many other unfoldings of her other story — the ones that only materialise in the wilderness of poetic desire.
These poems offer the reader a location in verse where memory takes on the shape and mood of the winds, where exile and desire meet in an ageing, ethereal zone of loss that has now morphed into a vista of beauty as much as of grief.
Sea, rock, ruin, ochre, stone, cliff, salt, and island meld and form a tongue of their own, acting as the syllables, letters and missives by means of which poetry lives side by side with the haunting imperative to forget.
In so doing, Bugeja’s verse reaches far out into the anxious edges of sound, tone, emphasis and rhythm of the Maltese language, making use of its strenuous beauty in order to build a wealth of imagery, metaphor and experience that resound in the reader’s imagination.
The title poem ‘Insa li Mhijiex Hawn’ recently featured at the Brussels-based Transpoesie festival organised by the European Union National Institutes for Culture.
You can listen to the author reading the book’s opening poem ’13:00 [Monemvasia]’ online.
‘Insa li Mhijiex Hawn’ is available from Klabb Kotba Maltin.
Dr Norbert Bugeja is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies within the Mediterranean Institute.