Malta’s first Poet Laureate, Maria Grech Ganado, was received by H.E. the President of Malta Dr. George Vella at San Anton Palace on the evening of Tuesday, July 11,  during a presentation of her first collection of poetry as Poet Laureate, The Bell, published by Kotba Calleja.

Grech Ganado was granted the title of Poet Laureate by the National Book Council in 2019, the same year she won the National Book Prize for Poetry for a fourth time. Earlier, in 2015, she was also recognised by the National Book Council with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to literature in the  Maltese and English languages.

The celebration was held under the patronage of the President of Malta. In this prestigious role as an ambassador for the literary arts, the Poet Laureate will be at the service of the Maltese state and the Presidency with contributions that may be requested periodically.

In his address, the publisher of Kotba Calleja thanked the President of Malta and the National Book Council for this initiative. He pointed out that poetry identifies who we are, so it helps us discover ourselves and articulate what makes us human. Calleja ended by thanking Maria Grech Ganado for her invaluable contribution, and summed up how the appreciation shown in such moments means a lot to small publishers like him.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Education, Matthew Vella, showed appreciation for the literary work that the Poet Laureate Maria Grech Ganado is doing so that Maltese literature remains alive in Maltese society. of our time. He stated that such celebrations should be extended in the field of education so that children in schools are aware of the importance of poetry as a tool that opens up new horizons that help us better understand human nature as well as a means to break through the spirit of the nation and help it make better choices.

The Executive Chairperson of the National Book Council, Mark Camilleri, described the occasion as a historic one in which the Republic of Malta is following in the footsteps of other countries that have traditionally recognised the value of poetry. He maintained that poetry provides a window on the state of Maltese society, and that a society which ignores the work of its poets, does so at its own risk. Camilleri concluded by acknowledging everyone’s indebtedness to Grech Ganado’s literary contributions.

In her intervention the Poet Laureate explained the importance of poetry in her life. She said that the name of her new collection The Bell carries the symbol of the bell, which is a living image of time and the word – as the bell serves to divide and define time, so does the articulated poem with the time of man.

In closing, H.E. the President of Malta George Vella wished that this honor would give a boost, and show the appreciation, and the deserved recognition to Maltese poets and Maltese poetry as an artistic expression of the highest level. He stated that he also hopes that this honor recognizes knowledge and appreciation of the Maltese poet as the voice of society’s conscience at the highest level of the state. The President of Malta wished the National Book Council to continue with the work of honoring the work of Maltese poets, recognizing their work as a service to the Republic and to Maltese cultural development.

Maria Grech Ganado (1943) was the first Maltese woman to work as a full-time lecturer at the University of Malta, within the Department of English. She has published five collections of poetry in Maltese: Iżda Mhux Biss (1999); Skond Eva (2001); Fil-Ħofra Bejn Spallejha (2005); Monografija (2010); Taħt il-Kpiepel t’Għajnejja (2014), and five collections in English: Ribcage (2003); Cracked Canvas (2005); Memory Rape (2005); Framed (2018); and The Bell (2023). Her work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Greek, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Lithuanian, Finnish, Czech, Catalan, Slovak, Hungarian, Dutch, Armenian and Esperanto. In 2020 Grech Ganado also received the Medal for Service to the Republic of Malta, and in 2023 she was awarded a Doctorate (Honoris Causa) by the University of Malta for her contribution to Maltese literature.

Pictures: Office of the President

Share Article