Everything affords a moment’s inspiration
Damian Ebejer: The Divide of Silence, Midsea Books Ltd. 2011, 115 pp.
Damian Ebejer cuts a curious and colourful figure. His direct and compact verse plays off the charm he’s found in another great love, painting, and the visual element in his work threads throughout this collection of poetry, The Divide of Silence.
It is full of little poems in English that express an ingenuous enthusiasm with the wonder of language.
Alongside his abiding interest in fine art, most especially murals and ceiling deco,Ebejer has published poetry since the 1980s.
This latest selection spans some 20 years of creative work, weaving together an impulsive, image-driven sensibility. The poems are neither dated nor ordered by genre, they stand or fall by their own spontaneous relationship with the reader.
“In the very beginning,
Or even smaller;
I recall the words
Entwining around in my head, along with
My miniature ideas and images.”
Ebejer’s verse draws much of its appeal from this responsiveness, and the use of imagery that connects a movingly human sentiment (as in the poem ‘For Francis’), with a quintessentially Maltese air of listless nostalgia. However, there is something in constant movement here, an eye that refuses to settle on one particular image, or a thought that cannot bring itself to coalesce around any single concept.
Perhaps this is where the poems, all snapshots, fail to mature into the kind of work that sinks deeper into a reader’s mind.
They linger at the surface, delivering a jolt or a smile, a pang of regret; if this simplicity belies a deeper struggle, it is never explicit.
In his poem about birth, the flickering voice of a Christmas candle represents the incarnate mystery of a life bound up with tradition, and the journey to a primordial home at once familiar and strangely new.
The pleasure of such an image comes and goes, but what resonates through the words?
Impressive for scope and treatment, the collection clearly shows that everything affords a moment’s inspiration for Ebejer, whose facility for writing verses on just about any occasion and informed by most any emotional state point to an ease of expression that, if not always successful, is invariably entertaining.
Loose blank verse and surprising (often surreal) imagery are typical; naked introspection, not so much. However, in other poems by Ebejer, his willingness to attempt a heavier theme comes to the fore.
In ‘Child Warrior’, allusions with a complex process bubble up from a world where heroicmoments of decision orientate towards a place of conflict.
Ebejer, speaking to the child warrior, writes:
“Now you’ve been toughed and roughed;
There you go son,
Son of the world,
Thirteen years old and never a decent lay
Already been on many a killing rampage.”
Verse writing may be another skill that is dying out, but Ebejer reveals an integral human need to find the stuff of spectacle and wonder in the most humdrum realities of our lives.
It informs a larger current of writing as self-expression, whatever others might receive in the process.
By making words (in them-selves) memorable, life’s moments become memorable, and that’s the important reminder this selection of little works drives home.
In the words of the philosopher, “at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet”. As Wilde would have it, these poems seem “sprung from genuine feeling”.
By being in love with the world, we find a constant and plentiful source of inspiration. And certainly at the very least, Ebejer’s exuberance and love for life shine throughout this collection.
The Divide of Silence will be launched at Villa Madama, Attard, on November 25 at 7.30 p.m. Some poems have been chosen for the public reading on the night. This launch will coincide with the opening of a retrospective exhibition of Ebejer’s paintings at the same venue.