Poet Miriam Calleja and photographer Zvezdan Reljic work together on Inside Skin, a two-part publication that addresses the taboo of the nude, complementing it with the written verse. The two artists share some pre-publication excerpts from their works.

Shot locally and complemented with Miriam Calleja’s poetry, Inside Skin is set to be the first locally-published coffee table book of its kind in Malta. Starting with the manner of its publication – photographer Zvezdan Reljic’s brainchild, the book is published by EDE Books and will only be available through print-on-demand.

Then, of course, there is the technique behind the shooting of the photographic works themselves, which were all photographed and hand-printed on silver gelatin lith by Reljic. Reljic is, in fact, now locally synonymous with this little-used printing process which uses standard black and white photography paper with a lithographic developer to produce a print with dark shadows and soft highlights.

As the name of the publication suggests, the collection of photographs focuses around the theme of ‘skin’, presenting nude models in a different manner from that to which we are accustomed, moving away from the sexual to highlight individual people and the stories their skin tells. Calleja’s poetry completes the stories.The publication is being released in two companion editions, presenting Calleja’s poetry side by side with Reljic’s photography. Every order includes a signed print.

Inside Skin is available for order online until the end of September.


A new kind of courage

You give me a new kind of courage
You’ve seen me crawl out of my own skin
Frustrated beyond words
Shaking my fists and my beliefs
At a world that

Because, who am I?
And who are you?
And what is it we are doing collectively that
Would matter at all?

You’ve seen me rise out of the destruction
Of my own dreams
Brushing every bloody tear off my face
In the way only long, hot showers and music can

You’ve seen me run and crash
And change direction
Breathless, jaw-clenched, eyes circles that don’t

You’ve seen me consistent and committed
To the grave
I started to dig
In my own creation of a beautiful garden
And then smile with conviction
As I covered it up and swore to you
It will never happen again
And I believed it
And we both know
That I am a fool.

Burying the dark

As I held you
A little animal noise emerged
More of a vibration than a noise
Something shaking within you,
That something shaking within me responded to.
We cried together
As though in slow motion,
In understanding,
In friendship.
Rain fell on the body we buried that night,
A low, insidious metaphor of your tears.
We lay on the ground
In deep silence, holding hands
Trying to get to the bottom of this question:
What is it to be human,
When breathless in the dark,
We cannot understand the end?

My best face forward

My best face forward
Or maybe, just maybe
You know
Stop my voice before
My mouth gives me away
Turning me inside out
Feelings and teeth and secrets
Laid out on the table
Spoiling our dinner

That’s not on the menu
And not what we ordered
That’s awkward

Disturbing the silence
I told you too much
And now we must both
Eat our words

What is love, now?

I sit for months with a toe reaching for the door
Everyone’s done it before us
Thinking it would save them
Then realising it would,
But never in the way that they thought
What a cruel discovery that the fear now isn’t about leaving
It is about staying

The first part is the easiest
It’s the part that everyone does successfully
Well, let’s face it, almost everyone
Almost successfully.
I’ll sip my wine
And rub my neck
This is uncomfortable
The staying in this, here and now,
With its silences, its slow, insidious, habit-forming,
Loveliness of it all.
Pronouncing the words
That everyone before us has said
Well, let’s face it, almost everyone.
Almost said.

Lost in the zoo

Your skin stretched hard
So clear considering your age
Trying to take a selfie
With the giraffe that stuck my hand in its mouth
But that was years ago
You didn’t know me then
And now we have four million years of eyes
Between us, only gazes
Of what might have been
And we know the potential is there
And we’re not going to grab it
It’s feeding time for the lion cubs
You cannot call something cute
When it’s eating a rabbit whole
Blood on its light fur
And the noises, those noises
Of greed and hunger and nothing will come in its way
I devoured the scent of your lips
Fruity and secret
And you lost me in the butterfly house
Purposely, because you wanted to lose me
Somewhere beautiful

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