Patrick Sammut, Vice-President of the Maltese Poets Association, published the following interview with Ada Aharoni about the role of writer/poet in the light of the recent world events.
The world today is facing very hard times. I just mention the floods that struck parts of Australia, the quake and tsunami in Japan and the following nuclear threat, and the civil war in Libya. How much do events like these touch the poet/writer? Did you react to such events through some kind of writing (poetry, novel, etc.)?
I would like to write a poem about the tragic disaster in Japan, but am so overwhelmed by the danger of nuclear fumes, that I feel it chokes me, and I haven’t been able to write a poem that satisfies me yet.
Do you think that the writer/poet must express himself and sound his voice regarding such events as soon as possible? What is the role of the writer/poet faced with events like these? Is this role less or more important than that of today’s politicians?
It is indeed very important for poets to be leaders and to freely express what they have on their minds and in their hearts, and especially to try through their words and art to improve the situation. The politician’s role is to find immediate relief, but his actions will not always be remembered. On the other hand, the poet can express truths that will survive and speak out to generations after generations, as for instance the Peace Poems of the British Poet Wilfred Owen, who wrote during the First World War.
The writer/poet has been insisting on the need for peace and respect of nature for decades. Perhaps now the people in general will understand that writers/poets were right. Do you think writers/poets are doing their utmost to make their plea heard? What more can be done?
It is a pity that not all writers understand the importance of presenting and dealing with social subjects, as for instance, the importance of peace. What can be done perhaps is to impress on poets that they should be “great minds”, and feel responsible for the welfare of their planet.
There is a need for governments and authorities to acknowledge the utmost importance of disciplines such as History, Literature, Philosophy and the like. Modern society does not need only science, finance, marketing, economics and management. How do you react to such a statement?
I certainly fully agree with this statement, especially in the case of literature and history – for a person, or a people, without roots – cannot survive.
Poem by Ada Aharoni: Cherry Blossoms will Bloom Again in Japan