Literature as a European mother tongue: In our series “One is a CROWD”, we introduce you to authors from all over Europe who will be involved in the CROWD omnibus reading tour, taking place from May to July 2016, featuring 100 authors who will be travelling through 15 European countries. We asked them questions about text production, reception and mediation. In case you were wondering what a literary activist from Malta looks like, meet Nadia Mifsud!
Do you see yourself as an author? Are you the originator and main authority of your text? If not, who is, if anyone at all?
Yes, sometimes I do see myself as an author. At other times, however, I feel more like an ‘interpreter’, so to speak. There are so many things that can act as triggers to the writing process – a sound, a word, a face, a landscape, a painting, a piece of music, an architectural detail… So in a way, no, I am not the originator – I am the one who transcribes those details, emotions, impressions, perceptions into words. Once the writing process is finished, the text is handed over to the audience, so the authority shifts too. I have always been fascinated by the way different artists deal with the same subject matter and by the different reactions of people to a particular piece of work.
Reading is writing is reading is writing … – why, and if so, how?
I can think of two answers to this question. First, this correlation between reading and writing is what constitutes a literary tradition. Authors are influenced by the writings of other authors and respond to them directly or indirectly; by so doing, they in turn nourish the imagination of future generations. On a more personal level, everything that I have ever read feeds into my writing, yes. The two are so intimately linked that I sometimes feel ‘invaded’ if I am reading a work that I feel particularly drawn to. When that happens, I need to distance myself from that author in order to do any serious writing. Once I have finished a writing project, I tend to go back to devouring every book that comes my way.
What is your favorite literary spot in Malta?
I would like to talk about a favorite literary event (and not venue) that takes place every year at the end of August. This is the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (MMLF), organized by Inizjamed in collaboration with Literature Across Frontiers and other local and international entities. This festival brings together writers from Malta, the Mediterranean and beyond to celebrate literature and discuss some of the most significant issues of our time. The MMLF, now running into its 11th edition, will be held at Fort St. Elmo in Valletta from August 25 to August 27. Check out this year’s fantastic line-up on Inizjamed’s facebook page or at inizjamedmalta.wordpress.com.
Photo by Emma Mutschler