Last month, two cultural groups  ‒ EspRimi (Malta) and Laboratorio Poetico di E'Valtellina (Italy) ‒ collaborated together to create a video containing poems in Italian about COVID-19.

TitledVoci dalla quarantena, it features nine poets from both associations who wrote poems in Italian. These include Maltese poets Patrick Sammut, Alfred Caruana Ruggier, Charles Mifsud, Amanda Busuttil and Emmanuel Attard Cassar.

In the video, Sammut, Caruana Ruggier and Attard Cassar read out their own poems, while Nathalie Busuttil read the poem written by her sister Amanda and Ronald Cuschieri read Mifsud’s poem.

The participating Italian poets are Paola Mara De Maestri, creator of the initiative and also the video’s editor, Stefano Ciapponi, Alda Volpi (her contribution was edited by her son Luigi Martinelli) and Lucia Mescia (edited by Livia Da Riva).

“The intention of the project  is to provide powerful witnesses through the varied voices of poets and leave a record of what has been experienced. It should also serve as a warning for the future and, in addition, to collectively promote a sense of responsibility to ourselves and to others,” De Maestri, councillor of E’Valtellina and also head of the Poetic Laboratory, said.

In a statement, Attard Cassar, president of EspRimi, also referred to the tragedy suffered by some, the discomfort and difficulties caused by the pandemic and the spirit of unity shown in countries across the globe. 

He wrote: “We have seen doctors, nurses and hospital staff struggle to save the lives of people with the virus. We have seen companies offer their technology to be used in this collective effort. We have seen people lose their jobs and we have experienced the anxiety and awareness of the severity that this new virus has brought.

“So, the poets wanted to speak  and they did so with the aim of supporting people who sometimes needed to stay away from their relatives and adapt to this difficult situation.

“But, as in other difficult times, people, some of whom suffer more than others, can look forward and hope. And these are precisely the aims of a poet: to express the joy and sorrow of the people and, at the same time, offer hope for people to be determined and confident in the future.”

The initiative also gained the prestigious patronage of Wikipoesia, considered ‘the Wikipedia of poetry’.

Renato Ongania, councillor and head of governance, commented  that “the composition of the laboratory, in a kind of Lombard-Maltese dichotomy, finds it difficult to live with feelings in the recent past.

“Resentment, anger, suffering, pain and the inadequacy of the response that humanity has given to the challenge are identified. Everything is tied to love, hugs, hope, the future – as if to soften the dark lines. The text enters the reality of time and stops its flow. These are the first months of the pandemic, the first deaths, now interpreted as deaths that unite peoples in tragedy.”

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