Miriam Calleja, Pomegranate Heart. Book Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

It is an island that sits on the edge of many different ideologies, of history having forged its distinct and positive identity and one to whom the people who nestle and cling to its rock with patience, drive and a sense of peace in their hearts. Malta has almost everything you could wish for, in both a place of relaxation and the best of holidays but also it holds secrets that implore investigation and one of them is the local outstanding poet Miriam Calleja and her anthology of dual heritage writing, the beautiful and absorbing collection that entwines throughout each page, Pomegranate Heart.

Unlike its namesake, Pomegranate Heart is in season, every season. It is a book that relishes in its ability to be cultured, dynamic, snappy and vibrant; it is a book that mirrors its author completely and one to whom if you have had the pleasure of meeting her, let alone hear her deliver poetry in her native Maltese and in a wonderfully accented English, will captivate the reader in ways that are energetic tactile and gifted with perception. It is the demonstration of such will that whilst the Maltese writing stands out as exotic and mysterious, it is in some of the more direct and appealing poems written in English that hold the eye’s attention.

The feeling of compassion, of empathy is to be felt within each page, the reaction to secrets dropped in casual but meaningful conversation is to be treasured but also the deep belief of security abounds and it is in this that the poems are to be understood. As a member of a proud island race, the sense of security, a sanctuary that has been invaded, attacked but never truly subjugated, is a memory that is inherent to the people of Malta and Miriam Calleja keeps those memories passed down with protective endeavour but also great love.

The poems are abundant, they fulfil every need to help understand the moment between two human beings; if we write twice, to be understood and to appreciate and comprehend ourselves then Ms. Calleja succeeds with that rare quality of simple and elemental truth.

Poems such as I Could Not Sleep From Wanting, the breathlessness of Secret Garden, My Echoes, the simmering anger that hides in beauty of Ambition and the sensuality that arises in all the Maltese language poetry captures the heart and make it ache with pride; to find someone of this quality is to rejoice and rejoice with honour.

Ian D. Hall