The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

bejn baħar u baħar by Elizabeth Grech

Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 09:50 Last update: about 4 months ago

Elizabeth Grech wrote her first poem on a piece of paper while perched on the fortifications of Hastings Gardens in Valletta. Eighteen-years-old, and in love, she was mesmerised by the beauty of the sea in front of her.

That poem ended up scrunched up a few days later, in hurt and disappointment of a teenage love that came to an end, but from that moment on poetry became her way of venting, of expressing emotions buried deep down.

"My writing has always been sporadic though - until three years ago I found the courage to find my voice," Grech said. Finally her writing was allowing her to dream, to contemplate and listen to the music of words.

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The result was bejn baħar u baħar a collection of contemporary poetry, elegantly written and incredibly authentic. In them she shares her vulnerability on subjects such as femininity, love, loss, friendship, identity and beauty. Most are bite-size, candid affirmations, which can be read at a different pace than, say, fiction.

Often her writing makes one's heart ponder and wonder, until the words envelope the reader into a warm cloud of affection. This is probably because her poems are born mainly through emotions, which burst out as words on paper.

Many times Grech gets her urge to write at night. "Often I get up, grab a notebook and jot down words." The next day, she sculpts them into a poem, each one a story of its own.

Water, as her poetry indicates, is her favourite element. Award winning author Clare Azzopardi, in her review of bejn baħar u baħar says: "Sometimes the poems are calm, silent, teasing, just like the sea - I want to dive and stay."

 Grech makes it amply clear that the sea had always been extremely important to her. She spent her childhood summers in the blue waters of Wied iz-Zurrieq and always considered it a place to "drown my pains and nourish my body and soul."

When she left Malta for Paris - where for the last 17 years she has worked as a commercial and literary translator - she became increasingly aware of the sea's "symbol of openness, a horizon of open possibilities, a link with other worlds". 

bejn baħar u baħar is published by Merlin Publishers, as part of a programme to revive the cultural importance of poetry. "Poetry is often imagined as something written on a parchment by a hermit pondering the mystery of human nature in the middle of a desert," said Chris Gruppetta. "With her accessible collection, Elizabeth demystifies this and shows us that poetry belongs to all of us," he said.

bejn baħar u baħar is available from all leading bookshops or directly online from merlinpublishers.com


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