Serving as an associate professor in the Philosophy of Education within the Department of Education at the University of Malta after being awarded a PhD by The Nottingham Trent University, Galea originally cut her teeth as a teacher in primary and secondary schools. She released her debut poetry collection, Xi drabi mqar persuna (At times at least a person) in 2011 – a long-awaited collection of verses that germinated beneath the surface of Galea’s busy lecturing and research schedule. However, pitting the two endeavours at odds with each other would be a mischaracterisation. Just as her academic work strongly focuses on feminist philosophy and the challenges of the migrant experience in society, so her poetry explores the more micro-focused, intimate elements within these often sidelined human experiences, which are frustrated and eclipsed by either patriarchal structures or dominant socio-cultural narratives.
Recognising Galea as, in fact, a clear representative of a new and much-needed wave of female poets writing in Malta, fellow poet Immanuel Mifsud hails her debut collection as representing something of a corrective to the “conquering hymns” that characterise masculine poetry, while praising her “focused feminism” which places the body front and centre. This move is in turn described by Maria Grech Ganado – arguably the proto-feminist voice of Maltese verse – as an act of ‘gentle’ resistance: an act of protest simply by nature of its existence, presenting frankly and openly that which was formerly minimised.
Galea characterises her poetry as an expression away from rigid binaries and essentialising structures, also by dint of a wider net of influences which includes landmark feminist critical theorists such as Luce Irigaray and Hélène Cixous – with the former’s legacy keenly felt in the poems in which Galea pits a “call and response” to classic Maltese poets (such as “Poeta, toħlomx” in response to Rużar Briffa’s “Tfajla, toħlomx”) to create a dialectical feminist discourse.
The melding of intimate experiences and academically rigorous conceptual frameworks makes for conscientious and heady poetry, whose writing process Galea sometimes deems to be “painful”. The same is not true of her experimentation with children’s literature, which was given tangible form with the publication of her debut in the genre – the award-winning Il-Metamorfosi tal-Mamà (Mum’s Metamorphosis), and which she found unambiguously enjoyable to put together.
Written by Teodor Reljić
Project co-ordinator: Clare Azzopardi
With the help of: Kirsty Azzopardi, Leanne Ellul and Albert Gatt
Proofreader: Dwayne Ellul