Imwejġiet. Antoloġija ta’ poeżiji (An Anthology of Poems)
by Alfred Grech is published by A&M Printing Press: Gozo 2020
Alfred Grech is one of Gozo’s most prolific poets. A lawyer by profession, Grech has been writing poetry for many years. He has written articles on various subjects, some of which are of a legal nature, as can be expected from a writer who is also an expert in his field of research. However, it was in 2012 that he published his first anthology of poetry entitled Mix-Xefaq u lil Hinn, succeeded by Petali f’Wiċċ l-Ilma in 2014 and Erbatax-il Vers in 2016. Now he is giving us his latest anthology, entitled Imwejġiet, which in English can be translated as ‘Small Waves’, imwejġa being the Maltese diminutive for mewġa or ‘wave’.
Being such an experienced poet, there is a lot to say about Grech’s poetry and especially about this latest anthology of his. I would like to limit myself to one aspect that constantly caught my attention as I read one poem after another. The poems are full of Christian inspiration and phrases. In his poem Dak ix-Xewwiel (That Wanderer), the notion of inner freedom comes to the fore; he praises his ability to be free and asserts this by quoting St John’s Gospel when Jesus says “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going” (John 3: 8). He then compares his poetry with the wind. In his Fejn sejjer jien ma nafx għax ħadd ma qalli (I do not know where I am going since nobody said), he seems to be inspired by the words of Jesus to the apostles “Where I go, you cannot come” (John 8: 21) with which he concludes the poem. However, the message differs from that of the Gospel text, since he seems to be enjoying his freedom to the point that he will only move away in order to feel the comfort of company in numbers. Further on, in Għidli meta tkun ġejja (Tell me when you are coming), the prophet Isaiah comes to mind as he refers to the messianic oracle of Isaiah 11: 6. He may be having a spiritual conversation with the Lord himself since it is only He who is in control of history and destiny. Other poems of his are elegies, while his Noli me tangere might be purely autobiographical.
Love and life itself, society and politics, spirituality and morality together with existentialism are among the main themes that have inspired Grech
The date that sits at the end of each poem gives me the feeling that the poet is writing a diary of his own experiences and, being a poet, he does this not through narrative prose but rather by transforming his emotions, loves, joys and pains into poems.
At the end of the book, the reader might think that he has just finished reading a private diary that hardly contains any names of persons and places, but is still no less biographical in nature.
The book has a presentation by Maltese poet and art critic Tarċisio Zarb. Philosophical in nature, the presentation attempts to understand the poetic vision of Grech by delving deep in the soul of the poet. It is no mere presentation but rather a deep analytical reflection on the poetic journey that the poet is going through. Life is always a journey; what type of life would it be if it were not so? Our poet’s life is definitely so since at the end of the book, fellow poet Andrew Sciberras provides us with a description of the poet’s growth in maturity between 2012, when he published his first anthology of poems, and 2016. Love and life itself, society and politics, spirituality and morality together with existentialism are among the main themes that have inspired Grech to write his poetry. As the reader of this anthology can notice, the poet engages with these themes head-on and never ceases to astonish and invigorate.
Imwejġiet. Antoloġija ta’ poeżiji is an ideal name for a collection of poems that reflect one’s ups and downs in life, since nothing is so unpredictable as the ‘waves’ that come our way in our own life. Reading this anthology is like reading the poet’s autobiography flying on the wings of poetry itself.
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