Authors Leanne Ellul and John Portelli lead workshops among Skolasajf students in the run-up to the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival being held this weekend
Inizjamed annually seeks to give children and early teens a taste of its Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival by introducing them to one or more of the guest authors. Last year, Miriam Calleja held a creative writing workshop for students attending Skolasajf at Pembroke, while for this year’s edition, local writers Leanne Ellul and John Portelli delivered online sessions at two different Skolasajf centres.
Ellul led a poetry-writing workshop with a group of eight-year-old students attending the San Ġwann centre. By drawing on the general topic of the sea, the participants were encouraged to work on their own poem. Ellul demonstrated how they can shift from describing the sea environment using sensory language to making use of synaesthesia by describing one sense in terms of another (e.g. I can hear the sea’s blue).
To further bring the participants’ poems to life, she showed them how to use sounds and gestures to turn a poetry reading into a performance. The children enjoyed giving life to their poems and appreciated how different forms of art can come together to create something very special.
With the similar aim of bringing young minds closer to literature and creative writing, Portelli led a poetry-writing workshop with a group of nine- to 13-year-old students attending Skolasajf at Marsascala. Through his poem Ringiela/Row, he illustrated how writers can allow their imagination to run loose and tap into their emotions, hence transforming everyday experiences into poetry.
The children wrote and shared their own poems, with subjects varying from video games to the ongoing pandemic’s influence on daily life. With six nationalities in one classroom, a couple of students opted to write in their own language (Greek and Japanese), summoning an atmosphere similar to that created during the festival nights at Fort St Elmo, where different cultures are celebrated through language and literature.
Ellul and Portelli, both writers of poetry and prose, are among the six authors who have been invited to the 16th edition of the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival organised by Inizjamed.
The other authors are Miriam Calleja, Ghayath Almadhoun, Katerina Iliopoulou and Inua Ellams. They are reading their work at Fort St Elmo, Valletta, on Friday and Saturday.
This year’s edition also features local singer-songwriters Michael Azzopardi and Kym Pepe, as well as resident musicians Effie Azzopardi and Kenneth Sacco. Books of the invited authors and others will be on sale, with another stand for drinks and nibbles provided by Core Green Organic & Fair Trade. Since attendance is limited, and since every attendee is to be registered, the event will be ticketed.
Inizjamed would like to thank the Foundation for Educational Services and to the coordinators and playworkers of the Skolasajf centres involved in the organisation of these workshops.
This article originally appeared on the Times of Malta: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/poetry-transforming-the-ordinary-into-extraordinary.895636
25th August, 2021