November 05, 2009

BLIET (CITIES) – Exhilarating images of an urban soul

BLIET - front cover

Norbert Bugeja’s new poetry collection, BLIET has now been published, and is available in Malta's major bookshops. The poems in BLIET capture the ‘here and now’ of urban living in cities and towns in and around the Mediterranean as well as in Malta. Bugeja’s poetry carries with it the fascination with journeying, hot on the trail of those unusual stories hidden behind the thick walls, backstreets, squares and narrow pathways where this country and her shadow-cities carry on with their everyday chores. 

The BLIET project has its origins in those spaces that create cities - the cities we live in every day as well as those we experience a thousand times over within ourselves. First, the haunting silences: the silence of froth fizzing her questions away as she dries up in tumblers across the island’s band clubs. The wordless stares peeping from behind window blinds - cats poised to prance onto the next adventure. The first phrase, echo of dreams already lived in someone else’s mind. Following that, another, two, three words, anxiously whispered in the afternoon shade. And then, poetry erupts. 

BLIET is a relentless autopsy of every nook and cranny we live in, a rumour engraved in image after image. A rumour which - like every skilfully wrought grapevine - lures you in, compels you to help yourself, and take once more, and take again. Bugeja leaves no stone unturned. BLIET is a story in image, rhythm and metaphor, the exhilarating diary of an urban soul that will take you around the steps, ruins, lanes, shopping malls, arenas and rivers that shape the city’s body - the silence without and the chaos within. From Valletta to Cordoba, from Rome to Seville and Tangiers, from the Birgu’s to the Diju Balli’s of the mind’s eye, BLIET is a masterful portrait of our cities’ explosive interiors. 

As poet and critic Maria Grech Ganado has pointed out, ‘Norbert Bugeja's poems remind me of sculpture, with the wind as sculptor. His metaphors are among the strongest I have ever read, his rhythms trance-like. His cities are hewn out of rock but just as simultaneously out of sand. Reading him is like finding a treasure, a rewarding and, to me, a unique experience.’

BLIET comes with an extensive introduction by Dr Adrian Grima, a foremost Maltese literary critic and poet in his own right.

Norbert Bugeja is a leading writer within the new movement of Maltese literature. Metaphor is the brick and mortar of his poetry, a webwork of images and scathing impressions. His poetry has been published in international poetry journals and read during various poetry festivals. In 2005 he published his first collection of verse, 'Stay, Fairy Tale, Stay! Memoirs of a City Cast Adrift' (Midsea Books/Inizjamed, 2005). Norbert Bugeja was awarded his BA (Hons) and MA in English from the University of Malta. As a Commonwealth Doctoral Scholar, he is currently concluding his doctoral thesis and lecturing at the University of Warwick in the UK.

BLIET - the journey begins here. She will take you where you take her. And she’ll take you where you won’t. 

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