Mużajk is an exploration in multilingual verse, a work in progress braiding together the sounds and cadences of different tongues into a fluid rhythm and a coherent stream of thought.
Written mainly in a blend of English, French, Italian, Maltese and Spanish (in no particular order), and later sowing in other languages according to the subject, the mużajki or mosaics journey through a variety of themes, among them the pleasure and futility of living, love unrequited or fulfilled, the beauty of the Mediterranean, the desire for simplicity in an ever-increasingly complicated lifestyle, the absurdity of colonialism and its after-effects, and the at once exhilarating and disorienting feeling of variety itself.
The fifteen mosaics selected for this book show the swift evolution of an at once serious and ludic experiment into a genuine medium for personal, philosophical and planetary expression, allowing the nomadic poet to comfortably listen and respond to voices in different tongues without the pressing need to translate all thoughts, ideas and emotions into a single language.
Mużajk is published by Edizzjoni Skarta, on the occasion of two poetry readings in Sannicandro di Bari (as part of an artistic project directed by Italo-Palestinian musical duo Radiodervish) and in Lecce, Italy. The cover illustration, Gonbidapena, is by international calligrapher Massimo Polello. The book contains a detailed introduction to the Mużajk project, and all poems are accompanied by a translation in English.
Born in London to Maltese parents in 1978, Antoine Cassar grew up and studied between England, Malta, Spain, Italy and France. He is currently completing a doctoral thesis on the origins of the Spanish sonnet. He lives in Luxembourg, where he works as a translator. The first series of Cassar’smużajki or mosaics appeared in the Maltese anthology Ħbula stirati (Tightropes) in July 2007. A handful of mosaics have also appeared in publications in Italy (Nuovi Argomenti, Absolute Poetry), Kuwait (The Daily Star), Australia (The Chimaera) and the U.S. (The Drunken Boat, Other Voices). In May 2008, Cassar performed at the Biennale des Jeunes Créateurs de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Puglia, Italy. In October 2008 he was awarded a ‘Segnalazione’ in the international Premio Nosside. Cassar is due to be a guest at the Leipzig Book Fair in March 2009.
For more information, or to listen to a selection of poems, visit http://muzajk.info.
A fascinating experiment.
It seems pretty clear that ‘globalization’ is our destiny, for better and for worse. And Antoine Cassar’s mosaics are the best possible poetic expression of that, of a world in which we speak and understand each other’s languages – or at least try to. These multi-lingual tours of force are musical and smart, full of viscera and heart.
Ikolli ngħid li f’daċ-ċirklu Cassar mhux biss is-saltimbank li jimxi fuq il-ħabel, imma l-prestiġjatur li jilgħab bil-kliem, qisu qed jilgħab bil-blalen fl-arja bla ma jwaqqa’ mank wieħed.
L’oralità arcaica torna a risuonare nella parola in tempi di comunicazione tecnologica. Il poeta maltese Antoine Cassar si riappropia delle forme della lirica originaria, come il sonetto, in un mosaico di lingue, remote e prossime, capace di annodare l’umanità dialogante. Una performance metrico-vocale avvincente e suggestiva.
Mużajk echoes the bitter sweet nostalgias of a lost island paradise and the painful and at times hectic delusions of a Europe that is no more the cultural stereotype we know, but a strange amalgam of people trying to conform to a new commonality brought about by rampant globalisation.
This book is a scintillating tapestry of multilingual musings penned by a man striving to express the indefinable… an islander who is basically a cosmopolitan – a European at heart. The brilliant cover design by Italian calligrapher Massimo Polello could not have escaped the attention of “those who breathe within, between and among languages”.
Even though the words come gushing out in a stream that oftentimes seems oddly contrived due to the diversity of the languages used yet, somehow, it manages to achieve cohesion – even melodically, through its being confined to the strictures of the sonnet form.
The very evident existential angst can be interpreted as the animating motif behind much of this poetry. This explains why some of the poems deal with the poet’s quest to be catador de amores and end up being disappointed by the post-coital void. Inherent in this melancholia, I am sure, there is a vibrant forma mentis, a spiritual quest that is trying to find a philosophic core that is more solid, more satisfying than the transient moods of youth. ’Żda le, yo viviré. One day, perhaps, I’ll learn.
By pursuing this road, I would venture to say, the poet would surpass himself in producing a more mature and integral oeuvre that would vie with the best in modern European literature.
A unique accomplishment, and seen from Italy (in this horrible moment of fascism and racism, and disregard for constitutional rights, and so on) it looks not only as the strong aesthetic statement that it certainly is, but also as a political, and even humanitarian statement: “no man is an island” somebody said, and Cassar’s mixture of idioms to me represents just that – the bright side of existence, complex, ethically rooted, diverse and funny, and also moving.