ESSAY: 'Malta’s Jonah Complex' by Antoine Cassar

Antoine Cassar

Born in London to Maltese parents in 1978, ANTOINE CASSAR grew up between England, Malta and Spain, and worked and studied in Italy, France and Luxembourg. In 2004, after a thirteen-year absence from the Maltese islands, he returned to the village of his family to re-learn a language he had long forgotten.

A writer of Maltese, English and multilingual verse, in 2008 he took part in the Puglia BJCEM, and recited his poetry with Nabil Salameh of the Italo-Palestinian musical band Radiodervish. His book Mużajk, an exploration  in multilingual verse (Edizzjoni Skarta, 2008) was presented at the Leipzig Book Fair and at the poetry festivals of Copenhagen and Berlin. In 2009, his composition Merħba, a poem of hospitality was awarded the United Planet Writing Prize.

His Maltese poems have been translated into around a dozen languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Mandarin, Kannada and Japanese. Cassar’s most important poetic work, Passport (2009), printed in the form of an anti-passport for all peoples and all landscapes, has been published and presented in several languages, in a number of European and Asian cities (including Paris, Lodève, Madrid, Frankfurt, Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore), with profits donated to local associations providing assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.

Bejn / Between, a selection of Maltese poems with parallel English translation, is forthcoming in August 2011 (Edizzjoni Skarta), in time for the Struga Poetry Evenings festival in Macedonia.

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