Art in Translation (Part 2)

By Neil Attard

…From a Poem

In order to get the other side of the story, Neil arranged a meeting with Professor Oliver Friggieri – the creative mind behind the raw poem, ‘Jekk’.


Professor Oliver Friggieri is not only known for his numerous written works, but he is also regarded as one of the founding fathers of Maltese literature, and the person who helped pave the way for upcoming Maltese writers. When talking with Prof. Friggieri, he expressed his delight and gratitude towards The Travellers, who decided to breath new life to a poem he wrote quite some time ago.


When asked whether he had ever considered the possibility of his works being adapted into the musical art form, Prof. Friggieri replied that although he grew up surrounded by orators and singers, he never imagined that any of his pieces would have been repurposed into song. However, he is extremely glad that The Travellers took the initiative and made this happen, because in his opinion, “music is one of the most sublime art forms.”


Oliver Friggieri praised The Travellers for producing such a beautiful rendition of the poem through a new medium. He also deeply commends them for successfully attempting to sink their teeth into relatively unexplored grounds, when attempting to convert works of literature into music.


When we hinted at whether he felt anxious to see if The Travellers would change the meaning of the poem, Prof. Friggieri explained that a poem is at the listener’s disposition. A single poem can have multiple meanings depending on the reader’s perspective and interpretation. The professor further elaborated that there are two types of poems: a poem that the reader reads that passes along like a brisk breeze without leaving a lasting impression, or one that occupies a special place in the reader’s heart. Prof. Friggieri reiterates that the latter form is what a good poet should strive to create. This ensures that the poem resonates with the reader and thus leaves a lasting impression. If the poet has the ability to create this type of poetry, then the poem can withstand all winds and interpretations.


Prof. Friggieri said that even though poetry by itself is indeed beautiful, when you add sound to poetry you not only add a new layer to that beauty, but you are also adding new colour to the words. He believes that when two such gracious art forms like poetry and music merge together, it is an absolute pleasure to see them marry and flourish through one new medium.


The poet applauded The Travellers for breaking the preconceived notion that Maltese can’t hold a candle to other languages when it comes to music. The Maltese language mostly stems from Arabic, Italian and English, which are all associated with melodic and rhythmic music. Therefore, it stands to reason that Maltese music would also be able to be held in the same regard as other languages.


With the reignited spark in Maltese music, Prof. Friggieri hopes that more and more people see the potential of the Maltese language as a musical tool. For him, the language mirrors the history, and when you have a country which such a rich history as Malta, it as an absolute waste to have it overlooked by the musical scene.

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