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Dun Karm Psaila exhibition marking 150 years since his birth

Dun Karm Psaila exhibition marking 150 years since his birth

Heritage Malta is inviting the public to a contained exhibition, commemorating the memory and the literary works of Dun Karm Psaila, Malta’s national poet, as this year marks the 150th anniversary since his birth. The exhibition is being held at the National Art Museum, and runs all the way up till the end of October.

The exhibition was inaugurated today, on the 13th of October, exactly 60 years to the day when Dun Karm passed away, at nearly 90 years of age. In fact, the poet’s date of birth is also in October. He was born in Ħaż-Żebbuġ on the 18th of October, 1871.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, José Herrera. Kenneth Gambin, Heritage Malta’s Chief Operations Officer, was also present. Minister Herrera outlined Dun Karm’s prolific career, stressing his role as one of the founding members of the local writers’ guild, Għaqda tal-Kittieba tal-Malti, and as the author of the words of the Maltese National Anthem to Robert Samut’s music.

Dun Karm also penned the lyrics of several religious hymns sung in Maltese churches to this day. Minister Herrera remarked that Dun Karm started to write in Maltese somewhat late in life, so much so that up till 1912 he was still writing solely in Italian, but the poems he wrote in his native tongue are evidence of a remarkable adeptness at expressing his thoughts in the most beautiful idiom and vocabulary.

These works attest to Dun Karm’s love of rural life, his deep solitude particularly following his mother’s death, and his profound thoughts on human existence, so excellently expressed in his masterpiece Il-Jien u Lil Hinn Minnu.

On his part, Kenneth Gambin said that this exhibition is small in terms of display but rich in value, since it honours Dun Karm’s priceless contribution to Maltese literature. He added that the exhibition offers for the first time an opportunity to view under one roof a bust of the National Poet by Ġorġ Borg, some of his personal belongings including a pen and glasses, and a handwritten poem.

He also mentioned Heritage Malta’s student passport and urged children and teens to visit this exhibition and the rest of MUŻA using their passport. He added that besides this exhibition, Heritage Malta is collaborating with the National Festivities Committee and Maltese language associations in the activities they are organising in Dun Karm’s honour, such as the cleaning of the poet’s monument in Floriana and the offering of space in its museums for these activities.

Year 6 students from the Floriana Primary School took part in the inauguration, reading poems by Dun Karm as well as the Maltese National Anthem. They later visited the ‘Masterpieces at MUŻA’ exhibition which runs until the end of October.

Entrance to the exhibition is free of charge. Opening times are the same as MUŻA’s, that is from 10.00am till 4.30pm daily.