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Festival Mediterranju tal-Letteratura ta Malta / Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival
2016 pre-Festival Events

2016 pre-Festival Events

Four pre-Festival events | August 2016

Rodolfo Häsler: Leaning against the Edge | Sunday 21 Aug, 8.00pm, Spazju Kreattiv

Marc Nair: Busy Telling Stories | Tuesday 23 Aug, 8.00pm, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta

Open Mic / Palk Ħieles | Wednesday 24 Aug, 9.00pm, Maori Bar, Valletta

Launch of the Kurdish Literature Website | Friday 26 Aug, 7.00pm, Fort St Elmo, Valletta


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Rodolfo Häsler: Leaning against the Edge

Sunday 21 August, 8.00pm, Spazju Kreattiv

As part of the run-up to this year’s XIth edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival, Inizjamed is presenting a number of special events which are open to the general public and free of charge.

The first pre-Festival event, “Rodolfo Häsler: Leaning against the Edge,” is on Sunday 21 August, at 8.00pm, and is being held in collaboration with Spazju Kreattiv, the creativity centre on Castille Place in Valletta that is also hosting this encounter in English moderated by Jean Paul Borg.

Rodolfo Häsler was born in 1958 in Santiago de Cuba, one year before the end of the Cuban revolution. He studied Literature at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. A poet and translator, Häsler’s poems have been published in several volumes. His work has been presented in numerous anthologies, including Anthologie de la Poésie Cubaine du XXème. Siècle and Nueva Poesía Latinoamericana, and translated into English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish. He has translated the complete poems of Novalis into Spanish, and also works by Kafka. Rodolfo Häsler, who has been living in Barcelona since 1968, is co-editor of Poesía-Barcelona magazine.

Jean Paul Borg will be asking Rodolfo Häsler about the Cuban Revolution and whether it has been romanticised. He will ask whether icons of the revolution, Fidel Castro and especially Che Guevara, are really the heroes that many have made them out to be. The Cuban-born poet will be asked whether he sees any similarities between the Cuban revolution and the recent Arab revolutions of dignity and freedom. This encounter is being held at a time when Cuba’s relations with the USA have finally begun to thaw, but also when Häsler’s adoptive city, Barcelona, has become the focal point of a call for Catalan independence.

The 2016 edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival and the Malta LAF translation workshop are being held with the support of Arts Council Malta, Heritage Malta, Valletta 2018 Foundation, Għaqda tal-Malti – Università, the Fortress Builders – Fortifications Interpretation Centre, Spazju Kreattiv, and Highlight Arts. The MMLF is the recipient of the EFFE Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe label.

Photos of the event by Giola Cassar for Inizjamed:

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Marc Nair: Busy Telling Stories

Tuesday 23 August, 8.00pm, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta

On Tuesday 23rd August at 8.00pm, Inizjamed and Spazju Kreattiv are hosting a free public event, “Busy Telling Stories”, featuring the eclectic writer, performer and photographer from Singapore, Marc Nair, who is being interviewed by sociologist Anna Zammit. This encounter is being held in the creativity centre on Castille Place at the entrance to Valletta and is one of four events leading to the XIth edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (25-27 August).

Singapore is undoubtedly a story of economic and technological success. It is well known that Maltese governments, past and present, have looked at Singapore as a model to emulate. Malta and Singapore are island city states, both densely populated ex-British colonies that share an economic structure which includes tourism, the maritime and gaming industries, and financial services. However, the Singaporeans are considered to have a stricter work ethic and greater discipline than the average Maltese.

This interview will explore to what extent Singapore has been a success story and how ordinary people cope with the globalized rat race.

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, said in ‘From Third World to First’ that it was ‘crucial to keep Singapore’s multilingual, multicultural, multi-religious society, and make it…dynamic enough to compete in world markets.’ Thus, like the Roman Empire, Lee Kuan Yew applied multiculturalism to work in favour of the building of a country, rather than seeing it as a threat. How does this principle of multiculturalism work in Singapore?

Another important feature of this country that visitors immediately notice is its greenery alongside its high-rise buildings. Indeed, in his book, Lee Kuan Yew stated that he wanted to create a green Singapore and dedicated a whole chapter to ‘Greening Singapore’. At the same time, we are also aware of the fact that the cityscape of Singapore consists of an array of high-rise, well-lit buildings. How do the two apparently contradictory pictures gel?

Marc Nair has published six volumes of poetry. His latest collection is Spomenik, a series of poems and photographs from the Balkans. Marc was the 2015 Writer-In-Residence at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. He has performed spoken word poetry for over ten years in more than ten countries. Marc also sets his poems to music with his band, Neon and Wonder, and is the co-founder of Mackerel, a culture magazine.

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Anna Zammit

Anna Zammit has been a lecturer in Sociology at Ġian Franġisk Abela Juniour College since 1997. For a number of years, she was active within the Green party Alternattiva Demokratika and was local councillor for Alternattiva from 1993 to 1996. Anna Zammit has written on migration in an article in the volume entitled Ta’ Barra Minn Hawn, published by l-Akkademja tal-Malti and Klabb Kotba Maltin, on food issues in the Inizjamed publication Kieku l-Ikel Jitkellem, and on the environment in the volume Social Transitions in Maltese Society. Anna Zammit has also actively participated in discussions organized by the Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust (KKĠ), in particular, on issues related to the environment and to food. Her current interests include rural sociology and feminist literature.



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Open Mic / Palk Ħieles

Wednesday 24 August, 9.00pm, Maori Bar, Valletta

On Wednesday 24th August, Inizjamed presents another of its Open mic / Palk Ħieles poetry sessions, the seventh, with the participation of writers from the Literary Europe Live platform who will be in Malta for the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival. This is being held at Maori Bar, Triq il-Lanċa, on the Valletta sea front and is coordinated by Antoine Cassar for Inizjamed. This will also be a chance for those present to informally meet the authors taking part in the Festival, which begins the following day.

This series of open readings and performances of music, poetry, stories, and stand-up is open to any genre, language or subject and aims to develop an open mic culture on the Maltese islands, and especially performance poetry, spoken word, and slam. Writers and performers are asked to put their name on the list at the start of the event.

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J L Williams

One of Inizjamed’s guests who has confirmed her participation in this seventh session of Open Mic / Palk Ħieles is the American-born, Scottish-based poet JL Williams. Her books include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award, the triptych collection Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015), and House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016).  JL Williams was selected for the 2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, plays in the band Opul, and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.

Maori Bar, Triq il-Lanċa, Valletta

To get to Maori Bar, go all the way down San Nikola Street, towards the Jewish Sally Port, and go through the tunnel. Alternatively, from Marsamxett (ferry to Sliema), follow the fortress wall, in the direction of Tignè, and turn the corner. Maori is the blue building with an large octopus painted on it. There is plenty of space to park along the same street.

More information on this open mic session and the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival 2016 is available online and on Facebook or by writing to



Launch of a Kurdish Literature Website

Friday 26 August, 7.00pm, Fort St Elmo, Valletta

On Friday 26th August at 7.00pm, in the former chapel in the Piazza d’Armi of Fort St Elmo, before the start of the second night of the Festival at Fort St Elmo in Valletta, Literature Across Frontiers will launch KurdîLit: Network for Kurdish Literature and Publishing in Turkey. The event is being chaired by the director of LAF, Alexandra Büchler, and features the participation of writer Cinwanmerd Kulek from Kurdistan/Turkey, Ezel Yilmaz from the Diyarbakir Arts Centre, and Maltese researcher Monique Agius.

This Kurdish literature website is being created as part of the Literary Europe Live platform programme of activities which is funded through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. The content is organized under four primary headings: writers, translators, publishers, and journals. Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey, situated on the banks of the Tigris River, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province. Diyarbakir is considered the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.

Kurdish literature stands out as one of the key junctures for the flourishing and proliferation of the Kurdish language, an issue of central importance in debates over cultural rights and diversity in Turkey. The obstacles faced by institutions and people working in the field of Kurdish literature in Turkey, in conjunction with the environment of the thirty-year civil conflict, as well as the fact that these institutions and people have been unable to take advantage of the privileges offered to writers and publishers producing in Turkey’s official language, have prevented them from establishing sound communication with one another and with writers writing in other languages.

In addition to facing the negative consequences of the environment of conflict, people and institutions working in this field also lack monetary resources. Despite these circumstances, Kurdish-language publishing has picked up speed, especially in the last ten years. Still, the limited visibility of Kurdish-language literature in Turkey and in the international arena continues to be a problem, both for producers and for readers.

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Ezel Yilmaz

Mukadder Ezel Yılmaz is working as Project Assistant at Diyarbakır Arts Centre which was founded in 2002 in Diyarbakır with the aim of supporting the production and sharing of art outside the largest cities in Turkey. She is a Ph.D candidate in Sociology at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, writing about “Artists in Social Movements.” She received her MA is Sociology from EHESS with a thesis about the “Role of Civil Society in Conflict Resolution,” and a BA in Sociology from Galatasaray University where she wrote a dissertation about “Municipalities of Istanbul and Social Policy in the Neoliberal Era”.

Ciwanmerd Kulek was born in 1984 in the Kurdish region of Turkey, in a village in the southeastern part of the country, and has lived in Bismil, a small town by the river Tigris, in the Diyarbakır province, where he works as a teacher of languages. He graduated from the Foreign Language Teaching Department of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara in 2006. He is the author of three novels in Kurdish, published by the Diyarbakir-based press Weşanên Lîs, Nameyek ji Xwedê re (A Letter To God, 2007) Otobês (The Bus, 2010) Zarokên Ber Çêm (Children By The River, 2012) . He has translated literary works from English, Spanish and Turkish into Kurdish, by writers such as J. M. Coetzee (Disgrace) and William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying), while other translations by Gabriel García Márquez (Cronica de una muerte anunciada), Juan Rulfo (El Llano en llamas), James Joyce (Dubliners) and Orhan Pamuk (White Castle) are being prepared for publication.

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Monique Agius

Monique Agius iis a student of International Relations at the University of Malta, working on a dissertation about Rojava, also known as Western Kurdistan. As a social and political activist, she is interested in civil rights and social action, human rights, politics, and poverty alleviation. In 2013 she was an EVS volunteer with GUCKOBIR (Supporting Association for Individuals in Difficult Conditions), an association established in Ankara in Turkey, working with children coming from poor and difficult social backgrounds. She also took an intensive course in Turkish, a language she now speaks fluently.