His experience at the St Jerome hermitage in Pascelupo formed the basis of his prose debut – the memoir Tħabbat, Xtaqtek (Horizons, 2017). Spurred by a note left behind by a visitor to the monastery, the book unfolds through a series of reflective, aphorism-like passages dissecting the internal dilemmas of the narrator, as he filters his own unique experience at the monastery against the flickers of the outside world which peek in from time to time, offering a spiritual insight free from dogmatic proclamation. Published only on the insistence of a friend in Malta years after being written down as a series of personal diary entries, Tħabbat, Xtaqtek is both crystalline in its linguistic concision and raw in its expression of the agonies and ecstasies which punctuate a life dedicated to the contemplation of the divine mystery.
Galea’s trajectory as an author is, in fact, directly aligned with his spiritual calling. He first began writing at the age of 17, in the immediate aftermath of an experience that led to his spiritual conversion. Verse was his initial vent, and his explorations of the Maltese poetic milieu are marked by the influence of three key figures. Ġorġ Borg taught him the value of being concise, a trait which Galea associates with the ability to get at the ‘essence’ of things: something of a self-confessed obsession for Galea, both in poetry and prose. From Marjanu Vella, Galea learned the possibility of the poet’s words to explore the mystical. But towering above them all is Mario Azzopardi, whose work Galea would first encounter as a student in school, and with whom he would subsequently form a bond of friendship that lasts to this day. Galea sees a searching for the Absolute in Azzopardi’s poetry which transcends Azzopardi’s public image as primarily a poet of revolt and rebellion, by dint of his association with the Moviment Qawmien Letterarju (Movement for the Promotion of Literature) and all the related cultural advocacy that emerged from that notable milieu in the 1960s.
Having published a number of poetry collections, Galea released the prose follow-up to Tħabbat, Xtaqtek, In-Nar għandu Isem – noti minn paġna intima (Horizons), in 2020. He believes the current Maltese literary scene places a healthy and much-needed emphasis on revision and renewal – which he deems to be the highest purpose of literature.
Biography written by Teodor Reljić
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul