‘I fell in love with our language through the poetry of Dun Karm’

Trevor Zahra has written, illustrated and produced over 100 titles for children and adults, making him one of Malta’s most prolific and beloved authors. He talks about the works that first made him fall in love with his mother tongue.
Author Trevor Zahra fell in love with the Maltese language through Dun Karm’s works.

My favourite work by another Maltese author: It’s difficult to pinpoint a single book, but I solemnly declare that I fell in love with our language through the poetry of Dun Karm. Back in the 50s, there were no children’s books in Maltese (expect school readers), so I turned to adult literature, which was somehow accessible and comprehensible to me. In those days, I didn’t grasp their hidden meanings and innuendoes, but the rhythm and the melody of the verses fascinated me. 

What is it about? It’s about our identity; about all that forms our nation, our culture, and beliefs.

The thing that most fascinates me about it is: The magic of the ‘words’. Dun Karm was a real master in this field: through the choice of perfect vocabulary, he could build images and design captivating metaphors that kept me spellbound.

My favourite quote from it is: “Ħsiebi bħal agħma; biex isib it-trejqa / itektek bil-għasluġ kull pass li jagħti…” When I read these verses, in my teenage years, it never crossed my mind that someday I’ll be transformed into this blind man always trying to find his way through doubts and uncertainties. 

If you could ask the author anything, what would it be? I would ask for his forgiveness, because as a nation we’ve betrayed all that he strived for. 

It’s helped shape my writing/thinking because: Dun Karm introduced me to this incredible lover called poetry … and we’re still in love. I try to follow Charles Baudelaire’s famous advice: Always be a poet, even in prose.

I’m currently working on: On May 25, I’m launching my new collection of adult short stories, entitled SJESTA. My latest collection was SEMPREVIVA, published in 2020. 

Related Posts