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TRANSLATIONS

 

Confidential Reports

Confidential Reports
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Immanuel Mifsud. Translated from Maltese by Maurice Riordan.

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Immanuel Mifsud brings a new note of emotional candour to contemporary poetry. Confidential Reports tells the tale of love and grief in poems that are direct, often darkly erotic, and shot through with wit and humour. This is poetry as the old rock 'n roll — edgy, excessive, and visceral in its appeal. Mifsud resembles a rumbustious latter-day troubadour as his imagination roams the Mediterranean and mainland Europe. Here is a book that is lyrical, vulnerable and transgressive.

 

What the critics have said:

"Confidential Reports includes almost violently sexy poems of attraction and engagement. Riordan's elegant translations manage the trick of ventriloquism: we forget we are really listening, at least in part, to a poet whose work we already know; we enter instead a dark, living, extraordinary world." -The Irish Times

 

 

Selected Poems from Confidential Reports

 

The Day of the Dead (in Bratislava)        

 

If you were here, I’d ask you to recite

whole chapters that now are buried with dust.

Then I might have some clue as to how

I’d found my way to this unlit station.

From which no train is ever going to leave.

From which no footstep leads me away.

 

If you were here today, you could colour in

the blank map by which I was led alone

through the streets, the blind corners I turned

so that now I’ve arrived at this precise spot.

I’ve no idea how to pull myself out of here.

 

My blood, the fairground where ghouls hang out.

 

__________

 

Poem at Your Funeral

 

Ma, I remember you sitting out the back

peeling tangerines and telling me stories,

those tall stories you loved so much to spin.

Ma, I remember the day you told me

you saw the stars fall one by one from heaven,

so many the sea became a sea of lights.

 

Every night, lying awake, I remember you said

rain drops were Mary’s darning needles,

and if I touched them they wouldn’t prick;

that the wind was only the voice of God singing

and that the thunder and lighting-flashes

were playthings baby Jesus had let fall.

 

Ma, I remember you beautiful like red roses,

like jasmine, and narcissus, and marguerites.

Ma, I remember your voice quick as a fiddle

playing or falling silent as the fancy struck you.

 

Then it fell silent never to start again.

Even the flowers can hear the empty silence.

The sea lights have all been switched off.

 

Ma, it’s time to go. Look, someone has lit the candles.

Someone is waiting to hand you a posy of flowers!

Be sure you smile. Ma, happy Feast Day!

 

__________

 

Anniversary

 

You – the woman who loved me – are a year in the ground,

in the cold clay, in the dust, in the sand,

in the humid hole we dug for you to sleep in,

supposedly so we’d put to rest our memories.

 

You – the woman who loved me – are a year in the ground,

already one full year, and yet I can say

your voice comes back to me whenever

I listen to the flowers pray in the morning;

each time I stifle a cry, as you showed me to do,

so one dies at a steady pace, without too many jolts;

each time I give a rose, so I too get chucked away.

 

You – the woman who loved me – are a year in the ground,

and I can say, as I piece together your face

from the yellowing linen canvas of the past,

only you knew the heaviness of being a poet,

spilling his offspring with each step he takes.

Only you knew the weight on the burdened feet

of your son, counting the dry hours frittered away

with each sun that lets itself go on the vast waters

which I wish I could grasp the edges of.

Copyright ©2005 Immanuel Misfud

English translation Copyright ©2005 Maurice Riordan

 

 

 

 

Immanuel Mifsud

 

IMMANUEL MIFSUD was born in 1967. He is the leading Maltese writer of his generation and has published fiction as well as two collections of poems, Fil-Dar ta’Clara (In the House of Clara) and Il-Ktieb tar-Rih u l-Fjuri (The Book of the Wind and the Flowers). Most of his published work has been in theatre, which he also often directs. Mifsud has founded many theatrical companies, including the research theatre group Teatru tal-Ghomja (Theatre of the Blind). He teaches at the University of Malta.

 

Maurice Riordan

 

 

MAURICE RIORDAN was born in 1953 in Lisgoold, Co. Cork. His first book, A Word from the Loki (Faber, 1995), was a Poetry Book Society Choice and nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize. His second, Floods (Faber, 2000), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and short listed for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. He has co-edited, with John Turney, A Quark for Mister Mark: 101 Poems about Science and, with John Burnside, the ecological anthology Wild Reckoning. In 2004 he was selected as a 'Next Generation' poet. He lives in London, where he teaches at Imperial College and on the Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths College.

 

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