The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Collection of poems by Matthew Sultana

Sunday, 4 February 2024, 08:40 Last update: about 3 months ago

Written by Geoffrey G. Attard

'Dak li ż-żmien isajjar'

Author: Matthew Sultana

Publisher: Għawdex 2021

Pages: 140

 

 

In an era where Facebook, twitter, Instagram and the like are taking the place of the printed word, or rather competing with it, I believe I would be right in praising young Gozitan poet Matthew Sultana for publishing his anthology of poems under the title Dak li ż-żmien isajjar (freely translated as "the effect of time"). A literal translation would have to be "that which times cooks", rendering the phrase incomprehensible in the English language, a phrase that is only understood in the vernacular in which we still have the proverb iż-żmien isajjar il-bajtar (time renders figs edible).

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Sultana is not a novice poet; his poems have been appearing on various local periodicals and magazines for the last decade or so. Those who follow the modern media channels may find his name familiar. Being a supporter of the Leone Musical Society of Victoria, he has also appeared various times on TV presenting different theatrical or operatic representations that take place in the largest theatre on the island. His love of poetry, as he explains in the kronoloġija at the beginning of the book, goes back at least to 2002. His poems are easy to engage with, autobiographical at times and narrative in nature. Written in flowing Maltese, Sultana's poems reflect the Gozitan community; I would dare say they are even anthropological to the point of bringing to life certain characters synonymous with Victoria, Gozo, where Matthew was born, bred and still lives. However, this is not to say that his poems are provincial in any way. Some of his poems reflect the different moods that a human being experiences in his or her daily life. After all, this is what poetry is about; trying to express in black and white the various human trials and ordeals that one goes through thus showing to the world that we are the same, that the world is, as the Italians say, tutto il mondo è paese. In our own local language, we would say that we all sail in dgħajsa waħda (one boat) with reference to our universal human experience.

Direct, unassuming, observant; these are only a handful of adjectives I would readily attribute to Sultana's poetry. Though as I mentioned before, some of his poems are autobiographical, Sultana' poems have a feeling of inclusivity about them, most probably due to their reflective nature. A poet's raison d'être is writing poetry; our poet is aware of this and feels duty-bound to pass on to his poems, the diary of an interiority lived with a sense of enthusiasm and joie de vivre. As a Rabti myself, and proud to be one - precisely like the author of the anthology discussed above, I cannot but sympathise with him and continue following him. I just hope that many more would do the same; I am certain you will not be disappointed!


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