The poems of Joanne Bugeja collected in a book entitled Confessions of a Burning Soul, published by Olympia Publishers (London) read like a novel, a sweet and turbulent love story, that have the flavour of ancient Medieval poetic love poems and the arcane mystical poems, not devoid of sensuality, of the 16th century (the poems of John of the Cross come to mind), and burning in the crucible of 18th century Romanticism. Yet she manages to transport the mystic and spiritual language of love and the turbulent romanticism that overwhelmed Europe in the 16th century, into a contemporary, load a day to day undated diary, moving search for love of two human characters. The search for love is a never-ending process since the dawn of humanity. In fact, romanticism is intrinsical to the human behaviour before it became Romanticism, the Movement. Romanticism, in fact is neither a style nor a set of ideas or preferences, but the artistic expression of the openness of intellectual process. Romanticism is the mudo of the inner Self.
The incipit of the first poem (Let your words be soul stirring) sets the tempo and key to the whole work. Her poems are chiselled from true material, the stuff reality and dreams are made on: the body, the soul, the aspirations, the delusions, the joy and grief, the suspended hopes. Life and death. Dramatic Phrases at times stretch the sincere and poetical, even musical modulations. Sensuality is spread through all the pages of this collection not only through images and metaphors but also through explicit words which impregnate the whole poetical work. (luscious…gasp…dancing flames..hot sweet sensation.) For Joanne Bugeja love and life are anything but static image and imitation. She manages to give us the imagery of reflection by turning her thoughts into an ever-moving language painting. Thus, she manages to turn her thoughts into effective poetry.
Her words are like hands groping for the physical contact of a distant, yet ever present, love. The lover, desired and depicted – colour and physicality are important factors in these poems – seems to have a dualistic attitude: The idealised and the real seductive, desired and repulsed.
Paradoxes, at times verging on the contradictory, form the spine and fibres of these poems. Love is depicted and experienced in different modes: love as a searching impulse, love as lament, love as a song, love as a lyrical grief and lyrical sublimation. Love as an illusion and delusion. Love as dream and love as a tangible reality. Love as abnegation and love as acquisition. Love as seduction and temptation. Love as Life. Love as Death. But mainly love as a redeeming Beauty.
Stylistically, her main concern is not about form. At times, she disrupts it without distorting the clear line thought. Poetic thoughts and prose structure sustain each other, an important asset in these types of colloquial writings. There are times when symbolism (Falling Stars) becomes the best literary mechanism to express a shadow of enigmatic feeling., hiding the real meaning, leaving it to the reader to construe their implications, while in another (Make me your song) she makes use, also verbally, of a hip-hop beat, totally different from the rest, creating a pleasant dissonance in the whole opus.
She is aware of her feminine acquired strength and her inborn personal fragility. Her poems are also an effort to resist being turned into a mannequin. That cannot speak and talk and walk. Yet so sweet. (Love of a Mannequin). And in (Unmalleable Reflections of a Wild Untainted Soul) which Joanne chooses as the credo of her love-life, she declares I can’t become your version of me. These poems show the paradox of individual freedom and searched for autonomy in contrast with the dependence on the love offered by The Other. These poems sound like a manifesto.
The unifying feeling, sweet and bitter, that emerges from these poems, is the oscillation between attempt and failure, accepting and albeit without eliminating hope, that the desired love can never be materialised. But as Goethe would put it, strings of love keep us tied to what we love. But at the end, the lyrical lament that pervades the whole pages, turn the burning confessions into a canticle of love.
Author, Writer, Poet, TV Broadcaster & Radio Host
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