Artists should use Valletta’s European Capital of Culture status to take a stand on issues such as the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, according to Dutch poet Eeltsje Hettinga, who has used his work to honour the slain journalist.
Mr Hettinga is the official poet of Leeuwarden, the other European Capital of Culture with Valletta. He has dedicated one of the 10 poems he must write this year to mark the occasion.
Speaking to the Times of Malta, Mr Hettinga said there should never be silence on a subject such as the murder of a journalist, especially in Europe.
Instead, he insisted that writers and journalists should seize the opportunity to make their voices heard, particularly with Valletta and Leeuwarden having assumed such an important title.
On why he decided to write about Ms Caruana Galizia, Mr Hettinga insisted that the issue was not merely a Maltese one and it should be the duty of everyone in Europe to address it.
You cannot not write about such things
“For democracy to function properly you need good journalists, not journalists getting blown up. That is why when you are in the position that I am in, you cannot not write about such things,” Mr Hettinga said.
The poem, Malta – the Assassinated Day - recounts the story of the day the journalist’s car was blown up, describing how “A single bomb blew a car almost over the mountains and left the tongue that made life hell for Malta’s mafia dead and charred”.
The poem goes on to reflect on how “in the valley of death they torched the word the way they once slid books into the flames”.
Mr Hettinga has been publishing poetry for decades, winning awards in Friesland, the province of which Leeuwarden is the capital city. The poem, in English, Frisian and Dutch, was written in Dutch and translated into English by David Colmer.