Twice nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize by two different publishers in New York and Los Angeles respectively, between June and November 2017, Raymond Fenech Gonzi BA (Hons) PhD creative writing, UK was appointed Associate Editor of Adelaide Literary Magazine and Adelaide Book Publishers, listed as one of the top 100 literary magazines and book publishers in March 2018. The publishers have offices in New York, USA.
Born in the small fishing village of St. Julian, Malta, Ray embarked on his writing career at 17, freelancing for two major Maltese political newspapers, The Democrat and Il-Mument and consequently became a full time journalist with the leading English newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times of Malta.
Despite the fact that in the 60s and 70s journalism and writing in Malta were not even considered as a profession, and there were no academic courses in any field of writing available, the aspiring author pursued with unfailing determination what seemed to everyone else 'an impossible dream' and destined to remain that way.
In 1986, Ray left journalism and embarked on a totally different adventure as he sought a position in which he could use his creative writing skills more freely. For the following 26 years, he worked in advertising as a PR, copywriter, advertising manager and consultant for four different advertising agencies.
In 2004, his career as an editor with two nation-wide distributed magazines, The Globe Trotter and Living 2000 was brought to an abrupt end after he was diagnosed with HD Lymphoma. Forced to resign from his editorial positions, he realized that he still had goals he wanted to accomplish even if his future seemed so bleak. Instead of wasting his time indulging himself in self-pity, he enrolled for a bachelor’s degree course in creative writing with an online UK based university and later read for his PhD.
In the author’s own words: After fighting cancer for two years, I doubt the word, fear continues to exist in my dictionary. There is nothing to fear in this life and no human-made obstacle is really a problem to overcome. My whole perspective of life has changed now that I have seen death at close range. What is important to understand is that one must not take anything for granted, least of all health – live each day to the full and as if it were your last. Determination is the most powerful weapon each human being has at his disposition. We are here to fight against all odds and every inch of the way, all the way. Hemingway used to go by what he called, a double dictum: Men can be defeated but not destroyed – man can be destroyed but not defeated.
During the same period, the author also discovered poetry therapy and was awarded a scholarship in this subject by the Creative ‘Righting Center, Touro College, Hofstra University in the USA.
Ray had initially made contact to request further details about the subject, which until then he knew nothing about. The person who answered his call for information was none other than Professor Sherry Reiter, Director of the Creative ‘Righting’ Center, former president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, as well as president of the National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy, USA. Not only Professor Reiter offered the author a scholarship, but she also offered to mentor him personally. He completed the poetry therapy writing course in 2012 after two years of study. Recently, he also completed two diploma courses in Therapeutic Journaling with The UK College of Holistic Training.
The author commenced his writing career as a journalist, but never stopped writing poetry, short stories, articles and literary essays. Nor did he stop trying to market his work abroad at a time when in those early days, submitting work to so many countries turned up to be ‘a very expensive hobby’ and an arduous task, as every submission sent to an editor meant using snail mail. The submission procedures also included adding International Reply Coupons (return postage for replies by the editors) and self-addressed envelopes. The time span for replies then meant long waits, sometimes extending between three months up to even a year. His first attempts brought many a disappointing reply and rejections slips, but he never lost hope and kept submitting until the replies started turning into acceptance letters.
Last year, Holguin University, one of the only two recognized and distinguished universities in Cuba asked the author’s permission to use a selection of his poems to form part of the master’s creative writing programme. The study programme is conducted by Associate Professor Miguel Ángel Olive Iglesias M.Sc. at the same university.
His two recently published books by Adelaide Book Publishers were launched at the International Book Fair, Expo America in New York and at the International Book Fair in Frankfurt Germany 2018. The book, The Incident of the Mysterious Priest and Other Stories consists of a collection of short stories, articles and memoirs, and Growing with the Shadows is a collection of his best poems.
Fenech Gonzi's works have been published individually in numerous magazines, newsletters, journals, newspapers and anthologies in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Malta, Argentina, the USA, India, Australia, Portugal, France, Sicily, Canada and Cuba.
In the Author’s Own Words about Poetry
I like to write poetry in a language everyone can understand, without mincing words, or losing my way in the obscure, or the abstract. Poetry from its very origins was intended to entertain the masses, even the illiterate. It is another form of communication and therefore each word has to be simple enough for the majority reader to understand. Like Hemingway, I think ‘the most important equipment for a writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector’, which can identify nebulous sentences. Readers usually want to associate themselves with the poet’s feelings, but to do so, they first have to understand his writing.
Publications in Magazines, Journals, Anthologies, Newspapers and Newsletters
Poems, essays, short stories, memoirs and articles were featured in various publications including: The Envoy, the official newsletter of the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance (CCLA) and The Ambassador, the official literary magazine of the CCLA; (Canada & Cuba)
Barefoot Grass Journal, The Poet’s Pen Quarterly Journal of the Society Of American Poets, Scars Publications, White Ash Literary Magazine, The Aurorean, A Poetic Quarterly, The Candlelight Poetry Journal, Poetry Plus Magazine, Anthology Web Zine, Introspection Online,The Quail Bell Magazine, Poetry Heaven Online Magazine, Verses Magazine, Nomad’s Choir Poetry Journal, Alternative Press Magazine, Poetalk, Poeticdiversity the Litzine of Los Angeles, The Raintown Review, A-pos`tro-phe Poetry Journal, Boston Poetry Magazine, Thought Magazine, Writers Gazette, Renaissance Magazine, The Poet’s Pen by The Society of American Poet; Adelaide Literary Magazine; (USA)
Adelaide Literary Magazine, (Portugal);
The newsletter of the Professional Writers’ Special Interest British Group MENSA, Other Poetry, Vigil, Eclipse Poetry Bi-Monthly, Poetry Now Magazine, Snakeskin Poetry Web Zine, Writers Viewpoint, The Affectionate Punch, Poetic Licence by Poets Anonymous, The Sharkti Vanguard – International Journal of the New Renaissance Movement IV, Dandelion Arts Magazine, Third Half Magazine (K.T. Publications), ImageNation, Salopeot, the Quarterly Magazine of the Salopian Poetry Society, Rustic Rub Magazine, Solar Voice, The Old Police Station (T.O.P.S.), Gabriel Magazine, A Bard Hair Day by Creative Partners Publishers, Crystal Magazine, Linkway Magazine, Carillon, The People’s Poetry XIV, Vigil, The Solar Courier, Peace & Freedom, Poetic Licence and the Community Of Poets’ Journal, (England);
Poetry Expressions Online Magazine, Online Poetry Canada, Poetry Canada by the Federation of Canadian Poets, Ygdrasil Online Magazine, Poets Review Online, Teak Roundup, Latchkey Publications Website, Canadian Writer’s Journal, Poetalk Poetry Journal of Bay Area Poets Coalition, Poemata, the main poetry journal of the Canadian Poetry Association, Outreach Connection Weekly Newspaper and Amber, (Canada);
Flaming Arrows, Indigo and Electric Acorn (Dublin Writers Workshop), (Ireland);
Juju Magazine, (Northern Ireland);
Breakfast All Day Magazine, (France);
La Carta De Oliver – Bi-lingual Poetry Review, (Argentina);
Agenzia Di Stampa Settinanale Nord Sud Press Agency II, (Sicily);
Phenomenal Literature Literary Magazine, (India);
Micropress Yates, (Australia);
Quantum Leap and Haunted Scotland, (Scotland);
The People Newspaper, The Malta Independent, The Democrat, Il-Mument, The Times of Malta, Sunday Times of Malta, Femme Magazine, Tune In Magazine, The Globe Trotter Travel Magazine, Island Life Visitor’s Guide, and Living 2000, (Malta);
Many of Fenech Gonzi's short stories, memoirs, food recipes and articles have also been published in anthologies in Canada, the USA and the UK.
Published Books by the Author
- Within the Edges of Immortality (Poetry Collection), Promarketing Publications Ltd., Malta 1992
- Broken Innocence (Poetry Collection), Forward Press Publishers, UK 2000
- Poignant Voices 1st Books Online Publishers, USA (2000).
- Blood Lines (Poetry Collection), SandCrab Books, Cuba & Canada 2011
- The Incident of the Mysterious Priest & Other Stories, Adelaide Publishers, New York and Lisbon, Portugal
- Growing With the Shadows (Poetry Collection), Adelaide Publishers, New York and Lisbon, Portugal.
Prizes, Awards and Nominations
Awarded 2nd Prize for The Old Fisherman, Poetry Network Newsletter 1993 Poetry Competition by Poetry Network Quarterly Newsletter, UK 1993
High Commendation Award for Poiesis, the Fence Pamphlet Poetry Competition by Tears in the Fence Literary Magazine, UK 1995
Runners up Prize Award for his poem, The Spiral Wind by The Capricorn International Authors’ Guild, UK 1996
Awarded Publication in Spotlight Poets, a collection of poems by 12 specially gifted poets by Spotlight Poets, Forward Press, UK 1997
Third Prize Editor’s Choice Award for his poem, The Legend of the Dogwood by Triumph House Publishers, UK 1997
Runners-Up Award – poetry section for his poem, The Straw Hat by The Capricorn International Authors’ Guild, UK 1999
Commendation Award – Short Stories Section for, The Ghost of the Severed Hands by View Point Manuscript Publishers, UK 2002
10th Runner Up Prize for poem, A Requiem to St. Julian – Open Window III Poetry Contest by Hidden Brook Press Publishers, Canada, 2002
High commendation Award – Articles Section for, The Blood of Grapes Matched with Food by View Point Manuscript Publishers, UK 2002
Honourable Mention Award in Writing Contest Seeds 6 Poetry, for poem, Blind Vision organised by Hidden Brook Press, Canada, 2003
Awarded 1st prize in the Essay Category, The Mysterious Priest by Adelaide Literary Magazine Annual Literary Contest, New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal, 2017
US Pushcart Prize Nomination for The Mysterious Priest by Adelaide Literary Publishers of New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal, 2017
US Pushcart Prize Nomination November 2017 for his poem, The Electric Storm by Litzine, PoetciDiversity Literary Magazine, Los Angeles, USA
Awarded Publishing Contract for collection of short stories: The Incident of the Mysterious Priest and Other Stories by Adelaide Books, New York, USA and Lisbon, Portugal, June 2017
Awarded Publishing Contract for collection of poems: Growing with the Shadows by Adelaide Books, New York and Lisbon, August 2018
Awarded 2nd Prize, in Adelaide Voices Literary Competition and publication of his winning essay, Poetry as a Communicable Medium in Adelaide Voices Anthology 2018, Volume Two by Adelaide Books, New York and Lisbon in February 2018
Editor, The Leo’s Roar, Leo Club (Malta) sponsored by Lions International, USA (1980 - 1985)
Public Relations Executive, Leo Club (Malta) sponsored by Lions International, USA (1980 - 1988)
Public Relations Executive, The Lions Club (Malta) sponsored by Lions International, USA 1986-88
Chairman, Leo Club (Malta) sponsored by Lions International, USA, (1986 - 87)
President, Leo Club (Malta) sponsored by Lions International, USA, 1987-88
Leo Award of Honour for 10 years voluntary service awarded by Lions International, USA, (1986)
Appointed Editor - Living 2000 Magazine distributed by The Sunday Times of Malta (1999 -1999)
Appointed Editor – The Globe Trotter Magazine published by Regency Advertising Ltd and distributed by The Sunday Times of Malta (1999-2002)
Appointed Editor of the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance Members’ Annual Anthology 2018 (2017)
Appointed Ambassador for Malta of the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance (2017-2019)
Author’s listing in Encyclopaedia’s
Listed in the International Who’s Who in Poetry and Poets Encyclopaedia, UK, editions (1994 – 2018)
Listed Who’s Who Poetry Kit Online, Ireland since 1997
Listed in Dictionary of Maltese Biographies published by PIN, Malta (2005)
Listed in the Encyclopaedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by Eugene Benson, University Professor Emeritus of English, L.W. Conolly Vol 1,2,3,. This book includes more than 1,600 entries written by more than 600 internationally recognized scholars, and explores the effect of the colonial and post-colonial experience on literatures in English worldwide. In this encyclopaedia reference is made to the author’s first two poetry books, Within the Edges of Immortality (1994) and Poignant Voices 1st Books, USA (2000).
Current Works in Progress
The author is currently working on three books: his own memoirs, Forgotten Fairy Tales, The Benefits of Creative Writing (Using Creative Writing as a Therapy) and the memoirs of Malta’s leading veterinary surgeon and the leading exorcist priest .
Custom Made Courses by the Author for all Ages
Ray also designs custom-made courses in various writing disciplines for both adults and children. These include creative writing courses in poetry, fiction, article and short story writing, journalism, copywriting and PR.
For further enquiries Email: [email protected]