Individual residencies / Olot
ABIGAIL ARDELLE ZAMMIT
From Tuesday, 21 November 2023 to Friday, 1 December 2023
Abigail Ardelle Zammit is from Malta and has had poetry and reviews published in a variety of international journals including Matter, Boulevard, Gutter, Myslexia, Poetry International, The SHOp, Iota, Aesthetica, Freefall, Ink, Sweat and Tears, High Window, The Ekphrastic Review and Tupelo Quarterly. Abigail’s two collections of poetry are Voices from the Land of Trees (Smokestack, 2007), and Portrait of a Woman with Sea Urchin (SPM, 2015), which won second prize in the Sentinel Poetry Book Competition. Abigail holds a PhD in Creative Writing (Lancaster). Her most recent manuscripts have already been shortlisted in three international competitions and she is currently working on a new project featuring metre and desert landscapes. Abigail has been teaching Advanced level English literature for the past seventeen years. She also taught creative writing at the University of Malta for ten years, having convened and planned the first ever creative writing workshops at the university. Abigail's most recent poetry collection, Leaves Borrowed from Human Flesh, is forthcoming with Etruscan Press (Wilkes University, USA).
My intention is to write a sequence of formal and experimental poems inspired by desert landscapes and expressed through the body's consciousness. Each poem will engage with form as a political vehicle, giving voice to the complex interior and exterior interactions occurring at the intersections of self, ecology and social context. In my case, engaging with the global crisis will translate itself into an attempt to push lyrical language towards its disappearance, so each metrical poem will be written with the intention of being dismantled, erased, then reconstructed out of its fragments.
Being a short-term resident at Olot was a joy and an absolute privilege. I had set out to write poems about desert landscapes from around the world, following a trip to the Atacama, but once I was immersed within the Garrotxa region, with its forested areas and volcanic terrain, I found myself writing poems about this naturally-rich part of Catalonia, while enjoying the unique conflations of place and time.
Daily walks to the accompaniment of falling leaves and autumn hues allowed for that kind of defamiliarization that is always bound to engender a creative jouissance. Because I come from an island where trees are scarce and often violated by human greed, every bark and twig beckoned to me to write it into being. Entering la Fegeda d’en Jordà was like being in an enchanted forest – I watched the crows and magpies, and they watched me in return, slipping into my poems to speak of things I had seen in South American, and to unite territories otherwise disparate and disconnected. Even the artificial lake beneath my hotel window wove itself into my imagination, seeming, from that angle, like a liquid baby grand piano replete with stories and echoes from Monet’s repertoire of images. I particularly enjoyed a lone trip to El Croscat and to the Volca’ de Santa Margarida with the splendid hermitage at its centre, which would eventually become a poem about spiritual connection through a body that ‘strain[s] to be like God.’
I am forever indebted to Faberlull for allowing me free accommodation in a unique setting, bountiful breakfasts and evening meals, but mostly the opportunity to meet a very special cohort of artists with whom I will surely maintain contact for the years to come. The group dynamics could not have worked any better. Conducting a workshop about the poetry of place was another highlight of my stay and I am thankful to Isa and her lovely students for welcoming me so warmly at the Claude Escola d’Idiomes. Last but not least, I will never forget the kindness and warmth of the dedicated and hardworking Pepa, without whom this residency would never have been possible. My dream is to visit Olot again with the same group of people, perhaps working jointly on an extensive project.