In this year’s edition of the National Book Prize, Prof. Daniel Massa was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong career as a poet and scholar and his enduring contribution to Maltese literature. Prof. Massa was unanimously nominated by the National Book Council and the appointed board of adjudicators to honour him with this prize for his superlative contributions to Maltese poetry, such as the well-loved poem ‘Delimara’, as well as his lasting influence in the fields of Mediterranean Literature, Commonwealth Literature and Renaissance Humanism through his remarkable academic publications, which are highly esteemed both locally and beyond our shores. 

A leading poet in both Maltese and English, Prof. Massa published his debut poetry collection Xibkatuliss in the late 1980s, which in his words was “directed to a politically aware readership during a period of national conflict”. Previously, he had contributed to various age-defining poetry anthologies such as Kwartett (1960), Analiżi ’70 (1970) and Limestone 84 (1978) together with Victor Fenech, J.J. Camilleri and Mario Azzopardi among other acclaimed poets of his generation. In 2015, Prof. Massa published Barefoot in the Saltpans (Allied Publications), a poetry collection that includes English revisions of poems originally in Maltese, attesting to his virtuosity as a true bilingual writer. In his foreword to the volume, award-winning British writer Jim Crace applauds his “exceptional skill at writing in English with the intimacy of a native speaker without stifling the cadence and percussion of his home language”, also noting that the Mediterranean seascape is palpable in his verse. 

Prof. Massa’s poetic output quickly established him as a landmark poet in Malta’s literary canon because of his engagement with the postcolonial legacy and the political realities of the nation, but also due to his memorable depiction of the sea filtered through an islander’s psyche. Indeed, for readers and critics alike, Prof. Massa’s name is synonymous with the sea. In a study on Prof. Massa’s work, Prof. Adrian Grima has noted that on a political level, the sea in his poetry serves as an alternative motherland while lyrically, Prof. Massa’s poetry, with its rich imagery, vocabulary and sensuous rhythms is very similar to the sea. 

Apart from his artistic merits, Prof. Massa has had a long and illustrious career as a scholar, educator and teacher. Notably, Prof. Massa was the first Maltese person to head the Department of English when the University of Malta’s Faculty of Arts was re-established in 1988, later also being appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In 1985 and 2005, he adjudicated and chaired the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize respectively. More recently, in 2013, Prof. Massa published a 900-page biography of Peter Serracino Inglott, PSI Kingmaker (Allied Publications). He has also published widely on Renaissance Humanisim and Commonwealth Literature, with seminal contributions in various areas of literary critcism including Postcolonialism and Shakespeare studies. 

Prof. Massa’s oustanding ouevre is outlined in the bibliography below. 

Massa, D. (1966). Ġabra ta’ poeżiji. In J.J. Camilleri 1928-2012; Victor Fenech 1935-; Daniel Massa 1936-; Charles Vella 1930-2018; Ġużè Aquilina 1911-1997, Kwartett: Gabra ta’ poeziji. Malta.
Massa, D. (1970). Ġabra ta’ poeżiji. In M. Azzopardi., V. Fenech., O. Friggieri, & D. Massa, Analiżi ’70 - poeżiji, it-tielet kwartett (pp. 75-95). Malta: Union Press.
Massa, D. (1978). Ġabra ta’ poeżiji. In D. Massa (Ed.), Limestone 84: Poems from Malta (pp. 98). Malta: MUP.
Massa, D. (1973). ‘Giordano Bruno and the Topsail experiment’, Annals of Science, Vol 30, Issue 3. (pp. 98). Malta: MUP.
Massa, D. (1975). ‘Conversations with writers: Daniel Massa’. British Council Recordings I, 1975.
Massa, D. (1976). ‘The writer in Exile’, in A. Niven (Ed.), The Commonwealth writer overseas: Themes of exile and repatriation. Leige: Reviue des Langues Vivantes.
Massa, D. (1973). ‘Giordano Bruno's Ideas in Seventeenth-Century England’, Journal of the History of Ideas, vol 38, issue 2, pp. 227-243.
Massa, D. (Ed) (1977). The career of Mustafa Ibrahim Ajaj: A giant of Egyptian Popular Literature. In D Massa (Ed.), Across Cultures. Valletta, Malta, 1977.
Massa, D. (1978). ‘Cross-Cultural Dependence’. In C.D. Narasimhaiah (Ed.), Awakened Conscience: Studies in Commonwealth Literature, pp. 13-27, New York: Prometheus Books.
[ISBN-13: 978-0391009202]
Massa, D. (Ed.) (1979). Individual and Community in Commonwealth Literature. (ACLALS 1979). pp. 250. Malta: Old University Press.
Massa, D. (1978). ‘Introduction to Maltese Poetry’. Commonwealth Quarterly, No 7, pp. 11-27.

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