Sharples is very mindful of the existential baggage that we lug around and of the traditions that we are born into. This prompts him to invite the reader to engage with the great human narratives – love, death, grief, innocence, the journey – in a manner that is respectful of the past while being firmly grounded in the contemporary.
In his book of verse, Ra (Klabb Kotba Maltin, 2019), a collection which, as the name suggests, is inspired by the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun, he acknowledges the deep mythological roots of the subject matter, fully cognizant of the fact that these are still very much alive in our collective psyche. The recurrent motif of the sun, for instance, manifests itself in various, oftentimes contradictory, ways. In “Fuq il-Gżira ta’ Patmos”, the sun is a destructive force which blinds the poet’s persona with a light so forceful that it plunges him into a solitary abyss of darkness. It dries land and drains energy, laying waste to everything under its watchful eye, almost vampiric in its systematic depletion of life. In contrast, the sun in “Meta nisma’” is a harbinger of hope, of a new dawn ensconced in the serenity and contentment of companionship.
Sharples has a musical and scientific background. He has a Masters Degree in music composition from Goldsmiths College, London, as well as a BSc in Nursing from the University of Malta. In fact, one can see much of both the composer and the scientist in his poetry. The poems in Il-Qtar li Nħobb (Horizons, 2016), his first anthology of poetry, are divided into sections representing the different times of day, and each section is introduced by a haiku, a structure reminiscent of musical movements and overtures. Then, in both Qtar and Ra, Sharples groups the poems thematically, labelling and dating every one of them. Each individual work thus becomes a specimen of an idea or an emotion tied to a specific temporal reality which, by virtue of its poetic expression, transitions from the personal to the universal.
In his work, Sharples recognises that we are entrenched in a rich and varied past as a species. However, it is this very past which lends value, and provides the necessary insight, into who we are right now.
Written by Noel Tanti
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul