‘The Anthology of Contemporary Gibraltar Poets’, to be published in May 2019, aims to bring together the best work written by poets with a significant degree of affinity to Gibraltar.

Words are everything when being with your beloved; the choice of words, the rhythm and timing, the syntax, the subtle but meaningful pauses in the conversation… Words can raise the hairs on the back of your neck, or draw tears from your eyes. When we are considering love, we must be considerate of the words we use, and sometimes the right words are hard to find. The poets of millennia past have always known the struggle in finding adequate words for love, to the point that the much admired poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, advised an aspiring poet to avoid writing romantic poetry altogether until later in his career. However, if there were a medium to capture the meaning and experience of love, it would be poetry. This year, a group of local individuals are hoping to find the poets of Gibraltar, whether experienced and published or an aspiring poet beginning to develop their craft. The Independent Writers and Artists Project are aiming to include the best of their findings in an anthology of Gibraltarian poetry. One of those individuals and one of the judges for the anthology, Giordano Durante, met with The Gibraltar Magazine to tell us about the anthology.

Judging panel – Left to Right – Trino Cruz, Becky Gabay, Giordano Durante, Jackie Anderson

Where did the idea for this anthology originate from and what gave rise to the idea?

The idea came from Felix Alvarez, who contacted us and said that he wanted to do something to boost civil society and Gibraltarian writing, because one of the things that was missing was that there was no single volume that brings together current Gibraltarian poetry. There isn’t a single volume that brings together short stories or essays either, but the medium he was drawn to was poetry. Obviously, there is poetry that is being published (mainly self-published) locally, such as in the Chronicle, or circulated around friends, but it isn’t brought together in a single volume of quality contributions. The reason Felix contacted us is because three of us are involved with poetry: Trino Cruz, who is a published poet; Jackie Anderson, the current judge of the annual poetry competition hosted by the Ministry of Culture who writes her own poetry; Becky Gabay, a PhD researcher at the University of Gibraltar who is writing a thesis on Gibraltarian literature, and myself.

When did it all begin and when is the deadline for submissions?

We started talking in October and, by November we finalised some of the rules and how we were going to go about it. We opened up for entries at the beginning of December, when we made our first public announcements, and we’ve been receiving the entries since then. The closing date is 9th of February and we’re hoping to publish in May. Once the closing date passes, we’ll go through the stage of making our final decisions, and then the editing and putting together of the anthology will happen, before printing locally.

As a published poet yourself, how did you begin?

There was nothing, there was nothing particular that happened or that I consciously tried to do. It was just strange…I felt certain memories, certain experiences, certain sights, and simple things; simple things like things I saw on my way to work or taking my daughter to nursery, there would be something about the quality of the light or an evocative smell that came along and I thought these could be put into poetry. I don’t play an instrument, I don’t dance, I don’t paint, so my only form of expression is through words. I tried to look back at certain encounters that I’ve had in my past, certain significant moments, significant things that I’ve experienced and thought: how could I turn this into to a poem? How can I transform it into something that brings it alive again now? A poem is like an old photograph; it captures a world that’s lost, or a moment that is no longer there. You try and filter out the things that aren’t important and keep the essence of what’s significant.

Finally, as Valentine’s is fast approaching, do you have any favourite love poems?

I knew you were going to ask this, so I thought about it! One of my favourite love poems is not a traditional love poem in the sense that, perhaps, you wouldn’t write it in a Valentine’s day card. It is this poem by Andrew Marvell, a metaphysical poet of the 17th century. His poem is called: ‘To His Coy Mistress’.

The deadline for submissions is fast approaching and, like Marvell, you might feel “Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”, so in hope of having your poetry in this upcoming anthology, submit your poems to connectedgib@yahoo.com by the 9th of February.