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29 March 2017

Literary Conference at Bethlehem University with Two Maltese Writers

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Bethlehem University and the Representative Office of Malta in Palestine held a literary conference on the Bethlehem University campus. After brief opening remarks from Dr. Michael Sansur, Executive Vice President of Bethlehem University, and H.E. Reuben Gauci, Representative of the Republic of Malta to Palestine, an engaged audience of students and faculty members listened to presentations by Moroccan poet and professor Dr. Adrian Grima and Palestinian author Walid Nabhan.

Dr. Grima, who is a lecturer at the University of Malta in addition to being an extensively published poet and author, spoke about his literature and poetry and his relationship to Palestine. Along with being a celebrated poet, Dr. Grima was named chairman of Malta’s Technical Committee for Literature by the Maltese National Council. His Committee’s annual International Festival of the Novella is always heavily attended by Arab, and particularly Palestinian, authors. One of the most engaging points of Dr. Grima’s presentation was his discourse on the similarities between the Arabic and Maltese languages, during which he pointed out to the audience that Maltese is the only Semitic language that is the official language of a European Union member state.

Walid Nabhan followed Dr. Grima with his own presentation on the literature, which he themed as, “The Intricate Way Home.” The two lectures were quite complementary, as Dr. Grima has lectured on Walid Nabhan’s literature in the past, and Walid Nabhan has in turn translated Adrian Grima’s Maltese poetry into Arabic. Nabhan, a Palestinian Maltese author who was born in Amman, is the winner of both the 2014 Maltese National Prize for Literature and the 2017 European Union Prize for Literature for his 2013 novel Exodus of Storks. He spoke at length about the relationship between his personal narrative, including the fact that the reason he was born in Amman is that his family was forced to flee the Palestinian village of Al-Qubeihbeh in 1948, and his published literature. He also read an excerpt of his latest work in Maltese before translating it into Arabic, the audience notable intrigued by the similarities between the languages that Dr. Grima had emphasized during his presentation. Walid Nabhan concluded his presentation by reflecting on his gratitude to the Maltese government for giving him a second home, along with the citizenship that allows him to freely visit his motherland of Palestine.

The conference concluded with both authors fielding questions from the audience, culminating in a lively discourse between the authors, students, and faculty members in attendance. The conference would not have been possible without the support of the Maltese government and exemplified the open intellectual environment that characterizes academic events hosted by Bethlehem University.

Maltese Writers at BU

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine