Joy out of Captivity

A ALEGRÍA QUE EMANA DESPOIS O CATIVERIO

Thanks to poet, novelist and translator Gonzalo Hermo and the indefatigable Yolanda Castaño for the copies of this book that have just arrived from Galicia. I’m so proud to have six of my poems included in this book, with the original text in Maltese and next to it, their transformation into Galician poetry by Gonzalo Hermo.

The English versions of my poems used during the workshop are by Albert Gatt, beautiful poetic works in their own right which appeared in the collection Last-ditch Ecstasy published in India by Paperwall and in Malta by Midsea Books.

Gonzalo also wrote a very beautiful comment about my poems. I know that as a poet I shouldn’t be commenting about what is written about my poems, but I cannot resist saying that what he has written resonates so much with me.

The book includes poems by Gonzalo translated into various languages, including one of the poems I translated into Maltese.

I’m also so glad to be sharing the pages of this delicately designed book with Arvis Viguls, Itisha Giri, Manal Al-Sheikh, and Rui Cóias. As Gonzalo says in his introductiion, we shared so many beautiful moments of poetry and friendship on the secluded island of San Simón: now we can at least continue to share these moments together in the secluded island of this book of poetry.

Thanks to the Deputación de Pontevedra for believing in this project and supporting it.

I agree with you perfectly, Gonzalo: “Foi un círculo máxico.”

From the Introduction by Gonzalo Hermo (English below)

Cinco voces do mundo. Cinco poetas en cinco idiomas distintos e unha linguaxe común: a lingua do poema. Sucedeu na illa de San Simón a semana que estreabamos o mes de outubro de 2019. Eu coñecíaos a través dunha versión en inglés dos seus textos e podo xurar que a persoa acabou confirmando a poética. Foi un círculo máxico. Agora que escribo estas liñas, alguns meses despois, resúltame dificil falar da poesía sen falar da poeta. A literatura é para min moitas veces unha cuestión de empatía. Evito a tentación de converter este prólogo nunha crónica da miña relación con cada unha delas. Falarei de poesía. Pero non me resisto a deixar por escrito que en Adrian e Arvis, en Itisha e Manal, en Rui e tamén en Yolanda, a persoa está á altura dos seus versos.

Na obra de Adrian Grima (Malta, 1968) chama a atención a capacidade para transitar polo real coa intimidade dunha voz que nos fala ao oído. Grima é un poeta de escenas do cotián, que sabe brillar no relato dos afectos: unha relación cociñada a lume lento coma patacas con romeu, unha manta pregada sobre as pernas dun pai doente, a man que se achega á outra no instante decisivo do amor. Episodios do común tratados con altas doses de delicadeza. Con todo, o poeta é tamén sensible ás causas do seu tempo. A situación do emigrante que sobrevive en Malta en condicións degradantes trátaa Grima co mesmo grao de intimidade con que nos fala do amor. Sen estridencias. Poeta da revelación das cousas simples, do extraordinario que agroma alí onde a monotonía debería imperar, a poesia de Adrian Grima cativa porque sabe suspender as distancias. É un poeta do próximo, un cantor das verdades que despuntan no contacto co outro, na contigüidade dos corpos.

A tentative translation of part of Gonzalo Hermo’s introduction

Five voices of the world. Five poets in five different languages and a common language: the language of the poem. It happened on the island of San Simón the week we premiered in October 2019. I knew them through an English version of their texts and I can swear that the person ended up confirming the poetics. It was a magic circle. Now that I am writing these lines, a few months later, I find it difficult to talk about poetry without talking about the poet. Literature is for me often a matter of empathy. I avoid the temptation to turn this prologue into a chronicle of my relationship with each of them. I will talk about poetry. But I can’t resist writing that in Adrian and Arvis, in Itisha and Manal, in Rui and also in Yolanda, the person lives up to their verses.

In the work of Adrian Grima (Malta, 1968) the ability to move through the real with the intimacy of a voice that speaks to our ear is striking. Grima is a poet of everyday scenes, who knows how to shine in the story of affections: a relationship cooked over low heat like potatoes with rosemary, a blanket folded over the legs of a sick father, the hand approaching the other in the decisive moment of love . Episodes of the common treated with high doses of delicacy. However, the poet is also sensitive to the causes of his time. The situation of the emigrant who survives in Malta in degrading conditions is treated by Grima with the same degree of intimacy with which he tells us about love. Without shouting. Poet of the revelation of simple things, of the extraordinary that sprouts where monotony normally holds sway, the poetry of Adrian Grima captivates because he knows how to suspend distances. He is a poet of his neighbor, a singer of truths that stand out in contact with each other, in the contiguity of bodies.


I’m so excited to see this collection which includes six of my poems in Maltese translated into Gallego by a great poet, Gonzalo Hermo. Thanks to Yolanda Castaño for making this possible on the secluded island of poetry translation of San Simón. That’s the kind of “isolation” I like. 

Gonzalo Hermo wrote:

Velaí o resultado do VIII Obradoiro Internacional de Tradución Poética na illa de San Simón, dirixido por Yolanda Castaño.Poemas traducidos ao galego polo que vos fala (inglés mediante) de cinco poetas de primeiro nivel: Adrian Grima (Malta), Arvis Viguls (Letonia), Itisha Giri (Nepal), Manal Al-Sheikh (Iraq) e Rui Cóias (Lisboa, Portugal).«Reclusos durante unha semana na illa, tecendo complicidades que semellan para sempre, hoxe de todo aquilo só permanece un sentimento: a alegría. E aquilo de pensar que a poesía é a gran sorte das nosas vidas».

Here is the result of the VIII International Poetic Translation Workshop on the island of San Simón, led by Yolanda Castaño.
Poems translated into Galician through English of five leading poets: Adrian Grima (Malta), Arvis Viguls (Latvia), Itisha Giri (Nepal), Manal Al-Sheikh (Iraq) and Rui Cóias (Lisbon, Portugal).
“Prisoners for a week on the island, weaving complicities that seem like forever, today of all that only one feeling remains: joy. And that of thinking that poetry is the great luck of our lives.”

Gonzalo hermo

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