That collection also marked the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with local micro-publisher Ede Books, though it was also the culmination of a long-dormant passion to which Calleja returned after no small amount of second-guessing and trial-and-error.
Trained and to this day employed as a pharmacist, Calleja decided to pursue poetry in a more consistent way after spending some years dabbling in theatre, and other forms of writing. She would continue to creep out of her shell with the help of inspiring workshops by the likes of Kei Miller, Roger Robinson, and Wendy Pratt.
But organising literary salons and leading creative writing workshops also formed a key part of Calleja’s early poetic journey, the latter of which continues to form part of her grab-bag of poetry-adjacent activities. ‘Priceless’, is how she describes the feeling of guiding a budding poet towards the path of a satisfying work, or even line. The impulse to exist within a community of creatives is also testament to the collaborative nature of her work with Ede Books. Her sophomore collection, Inside, was released as one half of Inside Skin – with one volume containing Calleja’s poetry, the other photography by Ede Books founder and publisher Zvezdan Reljić. Calleja is also heartened to form part of the wider community of Maltese writers in the wake of the publication of her collections, and her active participation in readings, open mic sessions and festivals both locally and abroad. She does, however, confess to being intimidated by the tight-knit nature of the scene when she was first breaking in, not least because, as a bilingual poet writing predominantly in English, she found herself to be something of a minority voice.
Calleja has released two chapbooks in the wake of the COVID-19: the long poem Remember and Stranger Intimacy, both released in illustrated editions from the Ede Books imprint Štamparija Reljić. The pandemic has also seen Calleja continue her streak of medical writing, and in May 2020 she released COVID-19 and the Virus that Shook the World with Oppian Press.
Calleja’s poems were published in various international publications, and translated into Slovene, Greek, Romanian, French, Norwegian, German and Frisian.
Written by Teodor Reljić
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul