‘Sleeping Woman, Jilted’ by Abigail Ardelle Zammit

This poem reminds me of my conversations with Abigail on the possibilities of writing beyond the boundaries of received stereotypes of national identity, when she was my creative writing tutor at the University of Malta. The prehistoric clay statuette known as the ‘Sleeping Woman’ has become such a ubiquitous icon of the Maltese Islands. Drop into any souvenir shop and you’re bound to run into her in one form or another, as a fridge magnet, postcard, bottle opener – you name it. ‘Sleeping Woman, Jilted’ begins with the blessing ‘I wish you many lovers’ and goes on to carve out the living form of the goddess of fertility in a series of images that reminds me of Carol Ann Duffy’s reclaiming of the female perspective in Standing Female Nude. I consider it a quiet act of iconoclasm against the more lazy, disingenuous explorations of Malteseness.

Longlisted for the 2015 Montreal Poetry Prize. Available online here

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