The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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Diary by FRANCESCO GRECH: A young writer philosophises

Sunday, 27 February 2022, 07:00 Last update: about 3 years ago

FRANCESCO GRECH is a 29 year old author who published his first poetry collection in 2022 with Merlin Publishers entitled: “Kollox Jehel Maghna”. He holds two Masters in Literature and Arts and Culture Management and currently teaches literature. He also writes music for theatre and film with projects like ‘Dear Pete’, ‘Limbo’ held at Spazju Kreattiv and the short film ‘Dar ir-Rummien’ based on a novel by Pierre J. Mejlaq. Here is his take on Covid 19.

"I think we tend to focus a lot on the negative of the pandemic, not because we want to, but because it was an experience that brought with it change in almost every aspect of our lives, and change is always difficult. It wasn't just lockdowns and the anxiety of not knowing what new variant is going to appear tomorrow, but the fact that we spent more time in solitude made us stop and think about that famous question "Quo Vadis?"

Existential crises are my daily glass of wine and Covid just turned them into daily bottles of wine. Yes, I like wine, but I hate being alone and Wuhan just offered me the biggest challenge of my life. In some way shape or form I had to channel all this somewhere. Around 7 years ago I tried to publish my first book. I was fresh out of University with a Master's in Literature and of course I thought I was the next Dun Karm. I sent the manuscripts to various publishing houses around Malta and all of them answered in the negative. I was so, so sure of the writing that I did not realise that I had not dug deep enough into myself and what I wrote was a result of: "I am an expert in literature now so I can write a book" and of course it does not work like that.

Fast forward to the start of the pandemic 2020, I started writing again. This time I didn't write because I thought I knew better. This time I wrote because for me it was like therapy. I needed writing like I needed that daily glass of wine. It was saving me from my loneliness and at the same time helping me to have various conversations with myself that I was postponing throughout my life. Eventually it formed itself in a book with the name of "Kollox Jeħel Magħna" published by Merlin Publishers earlier this year. In this book I literally stripped away all my fears and social constructs and decided to be myself for the first time in my life. I decided to remove all the masks we carry around us and for once have a real conversation with myself and the reader.

Being real and being you is the most challenging and courageous thing one can do nowadays. In a world where everything is filtered (even a simple selfie) we tend to lose ourselves in these masks we create because we are constantly bombarded with role models that seem "perfect" from every angle of their body and their life. Social media is a lie. It's a lie that keeps feeding off our mental sanity until it will eventually suck the very life out of us. No one is perfect and no one will ever be, so let's stop trying to fit in this perfection which is killing us from the inside.  The beauty in us lies within our individuality, in the "ugly" stuff we try to hide.

The book presents itself with various themes mainly mental health, sexuality, relationships, love, abuse, Malta and Gozo. It is based on the concept that everything sticks with us and goes contrary to the Maltese expression: "Kollox jgħaddi". Another lie ... that we are fed in our childhood. Nothing really goes away. Everything remains and then it is our ability to use these positive/negative experiences to build ourselves for the better or worse.

I also write about difficult and taboo topics like self harm and suicide, not because I want to be called a 'miskin' but because we need to start serious conversations about things that haunt us. We need more people to come forward and talk about what keeps them awake at night and not the superficial conversations one usually finds on our social media. We need a reality check. We need men to seek help if they feel they need it and not be judged for it. We need our education system to get off it's ass and give space to future generations so that they will have a better sense of well-being than what we have right now.

My writing does not offer an easy way out of individual problems that most of us go through. It offers a journey. A timeline of my life and the readers' lives. How we are all in some way shape or form on this walk together and how we can help each other be better for our sake and those who will follow us. The style is very direct and contemporary illustrated by the wonderful Danielle Sant who managed to couple beautifully my words with her drawings."

The book can be bought on and most bookshops around Malta and Gozo.



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