Maria Grech Ganado & Immanuel Mifsud at Gozo Summer Book Festival

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Maria Grech Ganado and Immanuel Mifsud. at Gozo Summer Book FestivalSaturday, the last day of the Gozo Summer Book Festival, will be a day dedicated to poetry in honour of the late Gozitan poet Gorg Pisani.

The National Book Council said that among the events planned for the day, there will be reading sessions and interviews with different Maltese poets. These include Maria Grech Ganado and Immanuel Mifsud.

Maria Grech Ganado, winner of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award, will appear at 11:50am together with fellow poet Norbert Bugeja, with whom she will be talking about her poetry, her translation work and more. The talk will be punctuated with readings of her work by the poet herself.

Maria Grech Ganado was born in 1943 and came late to creative writing. She published her first collection in 1999, when she was already 56 years old, thanks to the encouragement of Marlene Saliba, who had shown some of her early poems to Peter Serracino Inglott. He published 4 in his new anthology, Ilhna Mkissra, soon to be followed by publications in Oliver Friggieri’s Il-Poezija Maltija.

Maria has published a number of collections of Maltese poetry, Izda Mhux Biss,1999 (a National Book Prize winner); Skond Eva, 2001; Fil-Hofra Bejn Spallejha, 2005; Maria Grech Ganado: Monografija, 2010; Taht il-Kpiepel t’Ghajnejja, 2014 (a National Book Prize winner), and three of English, Ribcage, 2003, Cracked Canvas, 2005 (a National Book Prize winner); Memory Rape, 2005. Many of her poems form part of the secondary and tertiary Maltese curricula and, to date, 4 dissertations at B.A. and M.A. level have been written about various aspects of her work.

Her first National award of an M.Q.R medal in 2000, however, was not strictly for her writing, but more for her academic achievements, especially those of her being the first Maltese girl to get into Girton College, Cambridge, get her Cantab. degree, and subsequently become the first Maltese woman to take up the post of a full-time Lecturer in English at the University of Malta.

Ganado has been invited to many literary events in different countries and, in 2005, co-organised an international conference in Malta with LAF (Literature Across Frontiers) and the NGO, Inizjamed. She has played a significant role in LAF’s collaboration with Inizjamed, especially in setting up the very successful annual Mediterranean Literary Festival.

Then in 2015, Ganado won a special National Book Council award for her contribution to Maltese Literature, The Lifetime Achievement Award, especially because of the number of translations into English she had done for other writers before an actual degree in translation or remuneration became mandatory.

The NBC said that visitors to the Festival will have the opportunity to learn more about the poet and her life, and to listen to some of her best poetry, read by the poet herself.

The National Book Council went on to say that is is also proud to present one of its better-known guests for the Summer Book Festival – EUPL winning author and poet Immanuel Mifsud, who will be reading some of his yet unpublished poetry on Saturday at 3.30pm.

The Council said that Mifsud is widely considered to have been a key figure in the literary revolution that redefined contemporary Maltese fiction, he started writing at the age of sixteen, producing mainly poetry and scripts for experimental theatre groups.

Mifsud would go on to play a very active role in the local theatre scene. Pupi, which he wrote and directed in 1991, made the headlines when its performance during a political protest by Alternattiva Demokratika was stopped by the police. In 1996.

He founded Teatru Marta Kwitt, a research theatre group. The group performed performed Ilma, which was premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 1999 and was eventually set up again by the Ministry of Education and the Arts to launch the official festivities of the millennium celebrations in Malta.

Immanuel has published a good number of short story collections, poetry books and books for children. He has also translated and published three volumes of fairy tales from different European countries.

In 2002 his book L-Istejjer Strambi ta’ Sara Sue Sammut, won the National Book Prize for prose. Twelve years after, in 2014, he once again won the National Book Prize, this time for poetry, with his collection Penelopi Tistenna.

Mifsud was the first Maltese writer to win the European Union Prize for Literature with his book Fl-Isem tal-Missier (u tal-Iben), which has been translated and published in Romanian by Polirom Publishers in 2014 and was published again in Macedonian by Goten Publishers, as well as in French by Gallimard.

In 2015 Mifsud won the National Book Prize with his novel Jutta Heim – an introspective tale about a disappearance in 1980s Berlin, about idealistic love and about the repercussions experienced by an ageing man who has lived and believes to have loved. The narration travels forward and back, mimicking the protagonist’s spectral and restless train of thought.

In Saturday’s event, Mifsud will be reading mainly unpublished poetry in an informal setting, giving visitors to the Gozo Summer Book Festival the chance to meet the poet in person.

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