Poets have a lot to say and they do it in a myriad of ways. Their complex thoughts are reflected in their profound writings, which are open to interpretation by the readers. But who are readers of poetry nowadays?

Bucharest-based Denisa Mirena Pişcu feels the urge to share her poetry in a world dominated by the banalisation of words and human tragedy.

“Poetry doesn’t leave time pass by unnoticed. I don’t think there is more human tragedy today than before, nor happiness. It’s just very hard to be aware of the season you’re in. You have to get out of the whirlpool, from time to time and sit on the beach for a while,” she says.

In her opinion, readers of poetry today are “people who pay attention; vulnerable to the wonder”.

The festival will feature readings in various languages, but mainly in English and Maltese

Kosovar poet Fahredin Shehu argues that there is a great deal of confusion among readers about “what to accept as poetry”. He sees “the terrestrial narration in poetry” as “so journalistic”.

For him “poetry has to have some pillars to stand firm as a creational tower”. It requires elements of knowledge, emotion, poetry craft and inspiration, which is related to emotional intelligence.

These elements “elevate the craft into art and the art into theurgy”.

Pişcu and Shehu will be reading excerpts from their works tomorrow at the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival being held at the Msida Bastion Historic Garden in Floriana.

“I would like to think that my poems, though short, have caught something to leave a trace behind,” adds the Romanian poet about her participation in the three-day festival.

Shehu, who is known for his “transcendental poetry” will strive to communicate what for him is “quintessential poetry, a reflection of inner human struggle, common human values, the unification of differences and discrepancies in cultural, educational and psychological terms”.

The festival, organised by Inizjamed, will feature readings in various languages, but mainly in English and Maltese.

The other writer participating tomorrow is Karl Schembri (Malta/Gaza), while Mazen Maarouf (Palestine), Angela Bonanno (Sicily), Monique Roffey (UK) and Immanuel Mifsud (Malta) will read on Friday. Dutch poet Tsead Bruinja (Netherlands) will perform with Maltese musicians tomorrow and on Friday.

Saturday’s evening will start with celebrated Maltese bilingual poet Maria Grech Ganado, followed by a reading from In Praise of Hatred by Syrian Damascus-based novelist Khaled Khalifa, and another reading by Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov, one of the most powerful voices in contemporary European poetry.

Each evening will also include an interview with a specific writer.

Tomorrow, Albert Gatt will interview Gaza-based writer and Oxfam media executive Schembri about writing poetry, listening to Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the latest events in Egypt and Palestine.

Freelance journalist David Schembri will interview Trinidadian-UK novelist Roffey about her most recent, prize-winning book Archipelago, and about water – this festival’s main theme – on Friday.

On Saturday, writer Glen Calleja is to interview Madzirov.

A food and drink stall and a book stand, selling works by the authors invited to the festival, will be available.

Live music will be provided by Jes Psaila, Justin Galea and Michael Galea tomorrow and on Friday, and Joe Debono and Manuel Pulis on Saturday.

Short films from Reel Festivals by Roxana Vilk will be shown every night.

The festival ends with a short reading by all the writers.

• Adrian Grima is the coordinator of Inizjamed, that is organising the festival with the support of Din l-Art Ħelwa, the British Council, Middlesea Insurance, the European Commission Representation in Malta, Reel Festivals and the Culture Programme Success Scheme run by the Cultural Contact Point of Malta. For full programme and details, visit www.inizjamed.org or send an e-mail to inizjamed@maltaforum.org.

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