Raymond C. Grech:’il barra mill-prIŻMI (beyond the prISMS)
A collection of poems; self-published; 2018; 117 pp.

A sequel to Qasab Iċaqċaq (Creaking Reeds), this is Raymond Grech’s second collection of poems in a projected trilogy that glorifies not only poetry per se, but also the fervent pursuit of a poet’s soul towards inner peace. In a way, Grech’s line of thought is very reminiscent of Dante’s own quest for salvation through the turmoil and sufferings of life as portrayed in his Commedia.

In this collection the prevalence is on the suffix ism as a point of departure to all the nouns that Grech has chosen as a recurring theme throughout the whole collection. And this gives the poems themselves a plausible feel and broad brush strokes of originality that further enhance the poems that were written before as well as those in this volume and, eventually, the ones to come.

In his fine introduction to the collection, Oliver Friggieri once again stressed the binding factor between all (real) poets: the quest for peace and happiness in a chaotic world, but particularly the need itself for libe­ral thought and self-expression.

And here, Grech has, once again, further enhanced his own beautiful poetry with many biblical quotes that complement  most effectively not only what the poet had (and has) in mind, his inner feelings, his joy and pain, his moments of disillusion, but also with the innate wisdom that has been a catharsis for humanity since it was initially passed on for posterity.

The poems in this collection touch every aspect of what makes for profound thought and the subsequent need for soul-searching. Most of the poems are written in a classical fashion; others are highly original in versification. And in all the poems the poet adopts a decidedly musical approach whatever the subject is. This gives Grech’s poetic style an originality of its own, far removed from the run-of-the-mill poetry that these days is frequently written and which, very often, is decidedly soul-less.

Particularly beautiful are the poems Minn Qalbi Għalik, Mulejja, Ma… Għannejt, Limerikki tal-Biki, L-Art Tbikkik, Jiena Tajra, Oħroġni Mulejja and Ward fir-Rebbiegħa. All these poems are essentially spiritual and highly reflective, as are many others in this collection, particularly when the poet  borders on the metaphysical.

Following comments by various distinguished Maltese authors and poets about his first collection of poems Qasab Iċaqċaq, Grech has (very wisely) included at the end of the book a list of rare words found in the poems, which are either Semitic or old Maltese words that are practically extinct and which, of course, need to be explained, so that the poems themselves can be enjoyed to the full.

This book is a must for all those who love not only poetry in all its forms, but also for those who would relate to poetry as an absolute catalyst to spiritual joy.