Louis Briffa: ‘For me, writing poems is a calvary of sincerity’

Maltese poet Louis Briffa tells all in our Q&A

In love with writing at the age of nine, the Maltese poet’s literary works have appeared in periodicals and Maltese newspapers. Briffa was literary editor of KullHadd between 1994 and 1998, during which he joined forces with Carmel Scicluna to set up a new literary movement for budding poets and writers. Elected president of the Għaqda Letterarja Maltija from 2007 to 2008, his works include Bil-Varloppa, The Tale of a Grasshopper and a Tomato, and his works have been translated to English by Rose Marie Caruana.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I thank God for giving me a new day and have coffee.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To be humble and keep my feet on the ground.

What do you never leave the house without?

The ring which my partner Graziella gave me some years ago as a symbol of our love.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Sensitive, kind and bookaholic.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Winning the National Book Prize Award in 2007 for the category of Poetry with my first published Maltese Poetry Book “Bil-Varloppa”.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Eating sweets when I know that I have to be cautious about my weight.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

In 2010 I did a major heart surgery operation which was very risky. During that period of time which was very tough for me, I realised how precious life is and how much I need to be grateful to God for every single day I live in this world.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

My library, which contains a huge number of literary books from around the world.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

How important it is to choose the right person to have a relationship with and love.

Who’s your inspiration?

My loved ones.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Believing that true love exists after having experienced a broken marriage.

Do you believe in God?

Absolutely yes.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

My grandfather Louis, he died a few months after I was born. I was named after him.

What’s your worst habit?

Being too cautious about things.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I drink socially and never found myself in this situation.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Sean Connery – many friends say that my gestures resemble those of Connery.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

People who think they are superior and look down on others.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Queen’s classic rock music.

What is your most treasured material possession?

A collection of paintings by local artist Joe Genovese.

What is your earliest memory?

Sticking my hand out of the cot when I was still a baby so that my mum would hold it until I fell asleep.

When did you last cry, and why?

I was writing a poem about a touching experience I had and this made me very emotional. For me, writing poems is a calvary of sincerity.

Who would you most like to meet?

Mohammed Salah – Liverpool player.

What’s your favourite food?

Traditional Maltese rabbit cooked in wine and garlic.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Jurgen Klopp who is the Football Manager of Liverpool.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

In France during the period of the French Revolution.

What book are you reading right now?

Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

To be invisible.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Publishing a collection of my best poetry.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Oh Holy Night – Luciano Pavarotti.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

Sarah Brightman’s songs.