‘Doreen Micallef should be the icon for Maltese feminists’

Immanuel Mifsud pays tribute to the poet who was ahead of her times

Immanuel Mifsud is a poet and writer who was been awarded the European Prize for Literature, and the Malta National Award for Prose, as well as Poetry. His work has been translated into several languages, and his bibliography includes titles like the controversial Kimika, which is a collection of short stories, and his latest publication, Għażiż Ġismi. He share why Doreen Micallef’s collection of poetry, published by Klabb Kotba Maltin in collaboration with L-Akkademja tal-Malti, is one of his all-time favourite books by a Maltese author.

One of my favourite books by another Maltese author: Doreen Micallef’s Il-Poeżiji (Doreen Micallef’s collected poems).

It’s about: The bulk, sadly not the complete, poems of Doreen. I’m a big fan of Doreen’s, and there are many things that fascinate me about her poetry: her confessionalism; the depth of her lines; her feminism (she really should become an icon for the Maltese feminists); the way she made beautiful things out of her emotional pain; the uncompromising manner she relates to the (male) god; and I could go on, and on, and on. I have two regrets relating to Doreen: first, that I never spoke to her, and second, that I did not edit this collection myself because I was too busy at that time. 

My favourite quote from it is: Alla mhux eħrex mill-mewt?” (from the poem Fis-Seħer ta’ Nofsinhar) – Isn’t God harsher than death?

If you could ask the author anything about it, what would it be? I think it’s too private to share here.

Her poetry helped shape my writing/thinking because: Doreen’s poetry is as crude as it is enigmatic; delicate as raucous; material and spiritual; physical as much as it is immaterial. Hers is distressed poetry and it has taught me a lot how anxiety is related to beauty and vice-versa. 

I’m currently working on: My long-time concern with memory has become an obsession now. I’m writing different things on the same theme.

For other Sunday Circle magazine features, check out the new menu at Palazzo Parisio or read all about 4 ways to integrate ChatGPT in our society.

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