Saturday, March 22, 2008

Peace poems from Israel

Prof. Ada Aharoni is a Peace Culture Researcher, writer, poet and lecturer. She is the Founder and President of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace. Ada lives in Nesher, Israel.

Poetry for poetry's sake? Art for art's sake? I am for poetry and art with a positive message. Poetry and art should promote peace, respect, tolerance, knowledge of others and friendship.


The politicians decided
We do not talk with the enemy
We will beat them because they attack us
We will shed their blood
and that of their leaders
But most of all -


In the meantime, in Sderot in Israel
And in the heart of Gaza
Blood flows and legs are blown away
And little eight-year-old
Twitee from Sderot
And Mohamed from Gaza
Will not play football anymore
But -


How can we convince violent leaders
To talk and not to shoot?
I watch from the side
At the tragic hen and egg situation
And weep together with all the sorrowful
People from both sides
But still, first and foremost -


Teddy Bears for Guns

My man of the year
Is the wonderful, wise one
Who sat himself in the midst
Of the West with a huge box
Of chubby Teddy Bears
On New Year's Day,
Attracting an endless
Queue of cheering kids -
Holding guns

He playfully showed
With a smile and a wink
And a Teddy Bear hug -
It could be the beginning
Of a honey-laden decade
In a brave new world

By wisely trading
For Teddy Bears

Not in Your War Anymore

I am not in your war anymore.
Surely we cannot paint war green
when even the long Cold War is dying,
so let's paint it in all its true
foliage colors, to help its fall

First, flowing flamboyant crimson blood
on throbbing temples and hands,
then russet bronze fiery metal cartridges
stuffing the crevices of young hearts
while golden laser Napalm dragon tongues
gluttonously lick the sizzling eyes and lips
of our children, under the giant mushrooms
freshened by mustard and acid rain
Surely, at the close of our
great atomic century
we will soon find the archaic
history tree, where we can dump
our fearful bottle legacy

And our grandchildren will ask their fathers,
what were tanks for, Pa? And with eyes
full of wonder, they will read the story of the
glorious imprisonment of the Nuclear Giant
in his bottle, corked for ever, and will say:

Well done Pa, well done Ma!

Poems of Amerigo Iannacone from Italy

Amerigo Iannacone was born in 1950 at Venafro (Isernia, Molise, Italy), where he lives and teaches in the secondary school sector. His is the director of the monthly cultural and literature magazine “Il Foglio Volante – La Flugfolio”, founded by him in 1986, and collaborates with other journals. He also found Edizioni Eva. Up till today he has published more than 30 books (poetry, prose, essays and translations). One of his last publications is the bilingual poetry anthology in Italian-Esperanto entitled Oboe d’amore/ Ama hobojo.
I got to know Amerigo Iannacone thanks to Teresinka Pereira who keeps in contact with many writers, poets and artists all over the world. She passed him one of my poems in Italian and after suggesting some small corrections, Iannacone immediately offered to publish it on his “Foglio Volante”. I accepted and from then onwards Iannacone pubishes my writings from time to time. I also translated some of his verse from Italian to Maltese which he is going to publish soon. Personally, I find Iannacone a very friendly and helpful person.
The following are some of his poems found in Oboe d’amore.


No, amica,
nei versi non c’e` resa
ma nemmeno illusioni
e forse non c’e` attesa.
Comunque sono semi
anche se non so
se mai germoglieranno.
Adelante, comunque, adelante.
Scriveva Zamenhof:
“Ni semas kaj semas konstante”.
(“Seminiamo e seminiamo con costanza”)


Sogno un tuo caldo bacio
mentre le labbra
effondono parole che non sento.
Tento un sorriso
e non mi viene bene,
non sono certo
quell’io che vorrei.
Sogno quel bacio
che non avro` mai.


Rotola il tempo,
e tutto travolge.
Alle spalle
una scia di rovine
il mistero.

Oboe d’amore

Rotonde le note
di un oboe d’amore
planano levitano
piume delicate nell’aria
fiocchi caldi
di neve colorata
volteggiano soavi
ritornano sinuose
carezzano l’orecchio
toccano il cuore

policrome farfalle sonore
armoniche le vedi ondeggiare

nell’aria danzano sublimi
e ti conquistano
in un’aura di poesia
e di magia.

To contact Amerigo Iannacone:

Friday, March 21, 2008

A free translation from Maltese

The hidden wisdom of the written word

The wheel goes round and round…
I keep asking myself
"The right way where is it to be found?"
Outdoors the weather is dark and tense
indoors expectation has its weight
outside rules noise, chaos, disorder
inside a craving for silence and peace
I, a book in hand reading dreaming
that in this world Good has still a meaning…
with pen in hand jot down a few lines
to air my torments and feelings
am taken by memories at times
of those who came and left
and for long moments it’s like boarding
the train of anguish
I am saddened thinking about the world’s evil
hatred, sickness, famine,
secret warehouses full of deadly arms
war, injustice, torture, manipulation
superpower leaders did not learn the lesson
that whatever man does he’s still vulnerable…
this he recognises only through
the hidden wisdom of the written word...

The wheel goes round and round...

Visit to Rome (7th-13th December 2007)

On top of St. Peter's dome

Another panoramic view from St. Peter's dome

In front of Castello Sant'Angelo

In Piazza San Pietro

Near Bernini's fountain in Piazza di Spagna

In front of St. Peter's

At the Fori Romani

In front of the Altare alla Patria

In Piazza della Minerva

At the Fori Romani

On the metro', Linea A

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

4 poems by Teresinka Pereira


On the monitor's screen
I have all the world at my service.
But I don't have you,
who are all my hope for happiness.

Chance is always playing
with my destiny, desire,
my trips, separations.

What is good about loving,
when for your secrets
I live with anguish and indecision,
standing alone
at the very last corner of this old
and now globalized Planet?


So many people to see
the vertiginous flight,
the beginning of the torture,
and the fascinating screaming
of the actors in front stage.

The punishment is the utopia
that our enemies are after...
For my part, I limit myself
to sharing my vow and
to forget without forgiveness,
a multi-dimensional treat
in this minimum space
where the words break
like crystals and the thought
is our worse hangman.


What's the use of my life
without your internet messages,
without my mistakes and imperfections
to give you chances to forgive me?
What's the use of my silence
if it doesn't worry you?

What's the use of the night
without unsleeping poets?
What's the use of religion
without the belief of the atheists,
and the sensations of lucidity
which boil inside them?


To go back to living a normal life,
do as not have meaning anymore.
My head cannot think
in ordinary images,
like taxis on the street,
sounds of a city which
for a few hours became silk sheets
to acommodate our desires
and the old callus reproduced
in words, like substatial codices.

I learned fast enought the dimension
of a smile, of a handshake
or a kiss on the face.

Now I try to turn my back
on a conflictive imagination.

What's the use of the abyss
if the suicidal craving
would not exist?

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.

Talking to Teresinka Pereira

I met Teresinka Pereira in September 2006 during a short encounter in one of Malta's hotels in the north. She is the President of the International Writers Association and a person very interested in poetry, human rights and travel. She sends her poems through e-mail on a regular basis and we often correspond through interand traditional post. She likes to create contacts between writers and poets from all over the globe. I like her poetry because she writes in a concise way about human sentiments, politics, social and environmental issues. And all this in a very direct way. (Photo from left to right: me, President of the Maltese Poets association, Alfred Massa, Teresinka Pereira, and Secretary of the Maltese Poets Association, Charles Magro - during our meeting with Teresinka in the hotel in Malta).

PS. Where were you born and where do you live today? Where did this interest for poetry come from and when exactly?

TP. I was born in Belo Horizonte, Brasil and I live in Ohio, USA. Since I was five or six years old I wrote poetry. In the house where I grew up there was a library. My aunt who was like a mother to me, was a professor. She had many friends who were writers or poets. I attended with her to poetry recitals and I used to participate in them since I was very young.

PS. What are the roles of Teresinka Pereira today?

TP. You mean, what I do today? I am a poet and a writer. I write poetry everyday and I write articles about politics. I am also a Senator and an Ambassador of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace. In that “role” I write diplomatic letters to Presidents of Nations, to UN delegates, Governors of States, etc. And I am the President of the International Writers and Artists Association. I correspond with writers and artists in five continents.

PS. What is the IWA and what are its objectives?

TP. The International Writers and Artists Association (IWA) was founded in 1978. The goal of IWA is to promote understanding, friendship and literature/art exchange with poets, writers and artists. IWA has many distinguished members as the Marquis K. Vella Haber, SOSJ Gran Prior International and Head of the Executive of the Supreme Council of the Sov. Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (Malta); Prince Waldemar Baroni Santos (Brasil), Don Cirillo Punzo, Prince of Cnosso and Manzanille (Italy); Lord Viktor Busà, President of the International States Parliament for Safety and Peace; Prince Dom Duarte Nuno João Pio de Orleães e Bragança, of Portugal; Dr. Denis Kelleher Muhilly, President of the American International University; Dr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former President of Brasil (1994-2002), Frei Betto, and famous writers as Ernesto Sábato (Argentina), Noan Chomsky (USA), Fernando Alegría (Chile), Rigoberta Menchú (Peace Nobel Prize in 92, Guatemala). Among the immortals: Dr. Jean Bernard (France), Carlos Drummond de Andrade (Brasil), Alberto Moravia (Italy), Ella Fitzgerald (USA), Eugene Ionesco (Romania), Jorge Guillén and Francisco García Pavón (Spain), Juan Carlos María Onetti (Uruguay), Augusto Roa Bastos (Paraguay), Juan Rulfo (Mexico), Julio Cortázar and Manuel Puig (Argentina), Maguerite Duras (France), Melina Merkuri (Greece) and many others, about 1290 associates in 112 countries in the five continents of the world.

PS. It seem that the IWA is not only interested in poetry but in various social and political issues. Can you elaborate about this?

TP. The IWA is a very inclusive organisation and in order to be open to so many artists and writers we have to be very progressive and liberal. But we believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. We are concerned about war, ozone and soil depletion, pollution, racism, sexism, human rights violation, homelessness, AIDS. We support the rights and freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all people, everywhere. We value: respect for and comprehension of all cultures and ethnic traditions; freedom of speech and diversity; we value the rejection of racism, sexism, tribalism and ageism. We promote creative and critical thinking in literature and art. We defend reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and ethical alternatives.

PS. What issues and themes do you discuss in your poetry? What are the languages you work with?

TP. My favourite topics are: love and politics. I write in Spanish, Portuguese and English, in that order. All my poetry is written in these three languages. Then I have many translations into other languages like Russian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Japanese etc. About 20 other languages.

PS. It seems that you prefer to write short poems to longer ones. Why?

TP. I understand how it is to be a reader. As a reader I have short attention span. I know that all of the readers in the world prefer to read a short poem than a long one. Also I write about ideas and feelings. A poem is more efficient when it goes to the point. The repetition is boring. For some reason I prefer to publish one poem at a time, than in the anthologies, magazines, internet. It is good to have a chance to read a short poem and share the poet’s feelings. It takes too much time to read a book.

PS. Which do you prefer: poetry for art’s sake or poetry with a message?

TP. I prefer poetry with a message, written with a lot of art!

PS. How powerful is poetry when it comes to delivering important messages?

TP. It is as powerful as a revolutionary song.

PS. Do you agree with the statement that people prefer prose to poetry? Why?

TP. Yes I agree. It is easier to understand prose, like a short story or a novel than a poem full of metaphors. It is more pleasant too. When you have the time, to read a novel or a book of history gives you more pleasure than poetry. Also, you learn more reading a book of philosophy or politics than when you read a book of poetry.

PS. How important is translation when it comes to poetry?

TP. A good translation is important because it can give the same pleasure to your sensibility reading a poem just as it was in the original, but a bad translation can kill a poem.

PS. How important is Internet for poets, poetry lovers and the public in general? Where does the published book of poetry come in?

TP. Poetry adapted to Internet very fast because it can be read fast. It can be recycled also. But you read it and you forget about it. If you have a book you can go back and read it as many times as you wish, and it does not weary your eyes like the monitor. There will be always a special love for books, libraries and bookstores.

PS. You spend a lot of time travelling from one country to another meeting various poets and writers. Why do you do this? What feedback do you get?

TP. Most of my travelling is for diplomatic reasons. I just combine my interest in meeting writers, artists and poets because these are my favourite kind of people. I prefer to meet poets because I understand them better than I understand politicians. Poets are very special people. They are never boring. I fall in love every time I meet a poet.

PS. What is your relation with Maltese poets?

TP. Before I went to Malta I had the idea that all of the Maltese poets were knights. It was a very romantic idea. My visit to the island was very pleasant. The buildings and the hills and the sea confirmed that feeling of adventure and the poets that I met confirmed my idea of knights and chivalry. Some day I will visit Malta again. Thank you very much for asking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two poems translated in Portughese

The following are two of my poems translated in Portughese by Teresinka Pereira, President of the International Writers Association. The first poem was written by me in English (One Past) and published earlier on this blog. It is a poem dedicated to my mother. The second poem (Breakfast and TV) was also published earlier on this blog. It is a political poem which discusses our indifference towards countries and people who suffer during all their life. It is also about mass-media and alienation. Thanks Teresinka for giving me the opportunity to share my poetry with Portughese speaking people.


Eu ouço as vozes passadas
vagando sobre um deserto
de tumbas mudas
Os insetos voadores são sedentos
pela sua presença
e eu estou sedento por água...
Lembro-me de você
lavando roupa na bacia do Twyfords
com cheiro de Higiene
queimando seu álito.
O sol queima e lembro-me
de quando criança
eu estava acalentado em
seus braços maternais.
Para min, hoje você está
em todas partes
e em nenhum lugar
sempre e nunca, tudo e nada
ontem e hoje... e amanhã?
Hoje eu salto os degraus pesados
dos dias, um a um
e em silêncio olho para frente
a ver se posso alcançar chegar ao final
- um desconhecido embora tão perto –
impotente de ver que algum dia
tudo encontrará seu descanso
em um passado sem saber...

Translated by Teresinka Pereira


O segundo dia do Ano Novo
mas nada de novo para o café da manhã:
o copo de sangue gelado dos mortos
e a torrada queimada dos corpos espalhados...

Sua voz monótona anuncia o menu do dia
sempre o mesmo, e no fundo da tela
a já conhecida música da metralhadora
e os gritos sem fim de vingança e tristeza...

Presidentes, primiero ministros,
generais e embaixadores nos servem
o prato comun com um sorriso impecável,
e nós, com nosso garfo e faca canibais,
saboreamos o prato fino cru
enquanto fazemos nossa parte
de estupidez brincando de deus,
condenando o bem e o mal
apoiando o bem e o que é justo
(e eu sempre me pergunto onde
estão exatamente os dois, se são
aliados ou pretendem ser?)

Já passaram muitos anos desde que
se anunciou a paz, mas as nuvens
negras ainda cobrem nossos olhos
e o vento frio sopra em nosso coração
e as mortes continuam batendo
nos nossos ouvidos.

Quase sem notar eu me levanto
e começo a caminhar para
o outro quarto. Vou assobiando...

Translated by Teresinka Pereira

New poems in Italian

Poetic inspiration for me is not a daily presence. Months may pass before I feel tempted by Muse to write a poem. However, my mind is always on the go: it analyses reality, thinks uninterrutedly, and sometimes I write short essays in Maltese regarding the daily social and political issues. During these last two or three years I am also writing a number of short stories for children in Maltese.

The following are three of my poems in Italian. Notte alla moviola and Lo sguardo che veglia were originally written in Italian, but Il sangue e la pace is a free translation from a poem I originally wrote in Maltese. It's about civil war in the Middle-East, but also about the charismatic figure of Pope John Paul II.


Passa come alla moviola la notte
scandita da mille piccoli rumori
conosciuti o sconosciuti
da mille pensieri pesanti e leggeri
da mille dolori che pesano
su spirito e corpo.

Un’ombra nemica la notte
di chi afflitto dall’insonnia
è trafitto, inesorabilmente,
da mille riflessioni...

Poi l’alba porta con sé
un urlo stridente di pneumatici
e migliaia di notizie in fila
che torturano il cuore umano
o quello che ne resta
e passa così il giorno, veloce...
seguito dal tramonto che annuncia
di nuovo
l’arrivo di un’altra
notte alla moviola.


La pace distesa su larghe pianure
di margherite, acetoselle, caprifogli, papaveri,
la pace sulle vertici più alte dei monti e nelle valli
la pace nello sguardo curioso di un bimbo
la pace nel bacio materno di mattino, la sera
la pace che nasce dall’amicizia
la pace nel sorriso di una giovane
che passeggia lungo una spiaggia color onde blu
la pace di una coppia anziana che cammina ancora a braccetto
la pace che sgorga dal lavoro quotidiano...

Il sangue nei mercati e nelle strade dell’Oriente
il buio nelle parole e negli sguardi di centinaia
che danno al fuoco bandiere e promettono vendette
pezzetti insanguinati di membra umane seminate lungo l’aia
fucili e cannoni che sparano feroci
pseudo condottieri che fomentano rabbia tra i deboli di spirito
popoli divisi in Oriente e Levante, Sud e Nord
Cristiani e Musulmani, rossi e blu.
Milioni che cadono come foglie rinsecchite
carestie, malattie, guerre
e i pochi che s’abbuffano,
figli dell’avarizia e della vanità...

La pace sulla bocca del vecchio Apostolo
che trema inclinato aiutandosi da un bastone
più forte nello spirito di qualunque falco
che grida parole spietate!


Ricordo ancora il tuo sguardo caldo
lassù nel balcone del quinto piano
a vegliarmi mentre aspettavo l’autobus
sulla fermata
tardi le fredde sere...
Ricordi azzurri come i tuoi occhi castani
respiro caldo
sguardo sereno
sorriso angelico...