Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Teresinka Pereira interviews me

The following are questions which Teresinka made me and I answered through internet.

TP- Where were you born? Do you come with a literary background from your family lifestyle?

Ps- I was born in on the island of Malta, in the middle of the Mediterranean, in 1968. My parents were no writers or poets but they used to read a lot of books, especially fiction and in English. My grand-aunt used to narrate to me as a child many fables which she must have heard when she was younger. I think that all this must have influenced me in a way or another to start reading literature and poetry, and later on write verse and short literary criticism articles. My grandfather used to play the organ at our St. john Cathedral in the capital city of Valletta before the Second World War and one of my uncles played piano on the BBC radio years ago. Some time ago I got to know however that my father writes verse occasionally and also my uncle. So there must be something in my blood which has to do with arts which I inherited.

TP- How do you describe yourself as an intellectual?

Honestly, I am not comfortable with describing myself as an intellectual because I still have to read and write much more before being one. However, I am a sensitive person and react to news which has to do with suffering, intolerance, disrespect towards our natural and cultural environment. I even wrote verse which has to do with illegal hunting, irregular immigration, war, 11th September, the Kursk incident, dirty politics and the like. I also have a number of articles published in a number of local national newspapers regarding the aforementioned issues. As I wrote before I spend a lot of time writing short literary articles regarding literature and poetry which then are published on local magazines and newspapers. Sometimes I discuss hot issues with colleagues at work, issues regarding religion, philosophy, racism and all kinds of abuse. I am a good listener and being so helps me know better humankind and the problems that surround us.

TP- How is your professional life?

I have studied History, Maltese and Italian literature both here in Malta and even in Florence, Italy. I have a Masters degree in Contemporary Italian Literature, with a thesis on The Italian Novel of Resistance in the 1940s. I’ve been teaching both Maltese and Italian language and literature, together with literary criticism, since 1992, at high school level. However, I am also a freelance writer and my writings (short stories, poetry in Maltese, English and Italian, social and literary criticism articles) appeared on different local magazines and newspapers since 1992. This last year I also had some of my poetry published on two Italian literary mags! I also published two books about Maltese poets and poetry (one in 2003 and another in 2007). At school I also publish a 4 page magazine with the best works (poetry and essays) of my students. I am currently the vice-President of the Maltese Poets Association (which today comprises around 90 members), and editor of VERSI, a quarterly magazine published by the MPA. I am also editor of a newsletter where I published the best poetry read during MPA poetry evenings which we organize on a regular basis and where poems in different languages are read.

TP- When do you write?

I am now married with two children and thus its quite tough for me to find time to write poetry. However, I write especially when I am reading a good book or when I am alone, or when I am touched by some bad news on TV. Sometimes I wake up during the night and write verse of short reflections. Other times I write during intervals when I am at school.

TP- Does your writing show the person as you are, as well as the concerns you have for the other people or animals in this Planet?

Yes. As some say, the writing is the human being who writes it, and this is also my case. I find it difficult not to be myself in my writings. The things that I write are born inside me, are myself.

TP- Do you think that to publish is important for a poet or a writer?

Unfortunately, some think that a writer or poet is good according to the number of books he has published. But this is not always the case. I think that to publish is very important but the reason is to get more people reading your writings or poetry. I prefer to see my writings or poetry published on newspapers and magazines, local and foreign, rather than to publish them in a book. Publishing helps the writer or poet create contacts with other people all over the globe, and in this case even Internet helps a lot.

TP- What is the most important thing in your life?

The most important thing in my life is my family. However, there are also other things that follow such as reading international literature, writing, exchanging ideas and travel. I am very happy to know that when I die I’ll be leaving a mark behind thanks to my children and also thanks to my published writings.

TP- Did you ever regret publishing something you wrote which had bad consequences for you or for other people?

As far as I know this did not happen up till the present day.

TP- Do you thing that the writer is a political human being?

Yes, of course, political here intended in its wide meaning. An Italian contemporary writer comes to my mind, Leonardo Sciascia, who in the 70s and 80s did not fear writing novels and newspaper articles against Mafia and a corrupt Italy. Or the 2007 winner of the Nobel Price for Literature, Doris Lessing, who had to leave Rhodesia because she spoke aloud and wrote against Apartheid. Many others have suffered imprisonment or exile, or even public humiliation because they were brave enough to speak and write their thoughts. Perhaps a writer is a politician who reflects and writes, whereas a politician is a person who acts more than thinks.

TP- Do you like to meet writers, poets or artists from other countries? Do you travel?

Yes, I like to meet writers, both local and foreign. I had some opportunities to meet foreign writers here in Malta during conventions or literary evenings. However, being an island, opportunities can be much better. I visited California, Cairo and Italy. When I am abroad I like to buy books which have to do with the literature of the country I am visiting. Then, when I return home I read the books and write literary articles in Maltese about international writers for local newspapers and magazines. I even publish interviews with different writers coming from different countries.

TP- What are you plans for the future?

I’d like to create more contacts with foreign writers, especially through internet. I’d also like to see more of my writings published on foreign publications. Being the vice-President of the Maltese Poets Association I’d like to read more poetry and help in organizing more literary evenings to help poetry and the love for it flourish. I have also in mind to publish two books: one about literary criticism in practice for High School students, and an anthology with my stories for children.

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