Daphne Caruana Galizia

Update – 16 October 2019

It has been two years since Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered outside her home. Days ago, a court in Valleta, a city in which a public memorial to Daphne keeps being torn down by the Maltese authorities, sat through defamation case hearings that continue posthumously against Daphne. One of these cases was by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. I wish the Maltese authorities would display the same determination into pursuing the people who ordered the killing of a journalist. Daphne and her family deserve justice, not five years from now, not ten years from now. They deserve justice today.

 Margaret Atwood

Today marks two years since the brutal assassination of Malta’s best-known investigative journalist and anti-corruption campaigner, Daphne Caruana Galizia. Although three men have now been formally charged with her murder, a date for their trial has yet to be set while those who ordered her killing remain at large. A memorial for her in Valetta, has been repeatedly destroyed by the authorities. In response, PEN International has devised a poetry memorial as a tribute to her courage and her dedication to freedom of expression. You can read poems written to honour her legacy below.

Billiards in Malta: A mirroring memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia

1          Monday, October 16th, 2017, was a usual working day for Malta.
2          The weather was warm, 24ºC, the Sun unloaded its light shipload.
3          The northeaster played billiards chasing little clouds over the blue altar.

4          At 3 PM an invisible billiard cue stick flicked a car from the road.
5          After the blast Peugeot 108 simply vanished from the asphalt.
6          A car crash? A slip down? Broken brakes? Who knows? That’s Malta.

7          People froze in shining shelters, seagulls panicked squeaking their alt.
8          Nobody knew what happened. Everybody knew. The world came to a halt.
9          In Malta billiard players always disappear into the blue.

10        A young man came running from the neighbouring house. That’s Matthew.
11        Tin projectiles digged shallow, smouldering craters like in a sci-fi.
12        80 metres from the road Matthew found scattered remains of his mother

13        Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was a journalist. And that is why

12        80 meters from the road Matthew found scattered remains of his mother.
11        Tin projectiles digged shallow, smouldering craters like in a sci-fi.
10        Three young men will always search for their mother: Andrew, Paul & Matthew.

9          In Malta billiard players with their billi000ns always disappear into the blue.
8          Nobody ever knows. Everybody knows. The world comes to a halt.
7          People freeze in shining shelters, seagulls panick squeaking their alt.

6          A car crash? A slip down? Broken brakes? Who knows? That’s Malta.
5          After the blast Peugeot 108 simply vanished from the asphalt.
4          At 3 PM an invisible billi000n cue stick flicked a car from the road.

3          The northeaster gained billi000ns chasing little zer000es over the blue altar.
2          The weather was warm, 24ºC, the Sun unloaded its light shipload.
1          Monday, October 16th, 2017, was a usual working day for Malta.

Boris A. Novak 

A laurel wreath for a dead journalist

It was not love that planted the bomb,
it was not infatuation that led to my pursuit.
It was not love that forever changed me, 
taking me away from them, my children.

It was a different kind of annihilation–

Daphne of legend, naiad, nymph of blessed
places, garnered for Apollo a laurel-wreath
when she fled his pursuit.
i.m Daphne Caruana Galizia, make me a place,

wreath me in laurels for the words I gave to you,
in rosemary for remembrance. 
Make a grove of laurels for me, cooling trees. 
Put them somewhere that is beyond his taking,
beyond his touch.

A shaded place for remembering, bring flowers there.

C. Murray

In Memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia

A perfectly ordinary working day: Daphne turns a key
and suddenly all her words become memorials. 

It is a kind of black magic. 

A government frightened of remembering 
turns a blind eye, whereby 
power turns into disgrace. 
Malta: this sun-laden, holiday- enticing 
island turns into a murderous place.

Dennis Haskell

Poem for a rose

You are a broken rose 
which robbed of their thorns 
on black earth 
flowers in secret – invisible 
for the ignorant 

you grabbed the bull by the horns 
he has lost his fur 
for the price of your life 
pulsing in a snake pit 
your heart – still do 

you live on 
in the memories of the people 
in her actions and dreams 
you did not go, Galizia – 
you are where we are looking for you

Gedicht für eine Rose

eine gebrochene Rose bist du
die ihrer Dornen beraubt
auf schwarzer Erde im
verborgnen blüht – unsichtbar
für die unwissenden

du hast den stier bei den hörnern gepackt
er hat sein fell verloren 
um den preis deines lebens
in einer schlangengrube pulsiert
dein herz – immer noch

lebst du weiter
in den erinnerungen der menschen
in ihren handlungen und träumen
du bist nicht gegangen, Galizia –
du bist dort, wo wir dich suchen

Dirk-Uwe Becker


Your work stands firm 
against the wind 

In far-off lands 
paper is made from your bark 
that your words be preserved 
in sacred texts


Seasann do shaothar go daingean
i gcoinne na gaoithe 
i gcóngar

I gcéin 
déantar páipear de do choirt
go gcaomhnaítear do bhriathra
i dtéacsanna diaga

Celia de Fréine

Malta – Assassination Day

Under a moon full-grown and white
like a wild potato gone mad,

a man sits, half in darkness,
alone and smoking on his veranda,

floor strewn with advertising,
newspapers and brochures about temples

and cities and five-star hotels.
But grim is the news driven

by the machinery of death, the island
lays bare its whitewashed tombs.

A single bomb blew a car almost
over the mountains and left the tongue

that made life hell for Malta’s mafia
dead and charred. Like crows

the potato sacks took wing over hills
closely planted with seed potatoes from

Het Bildt. Ai, watch your back, Jack,
now night has fallen in Europe.

In the valley of death they torched the word
the way they once slid books into the flames.

Eeltsje Hettinga 

Translation: David Colmer


You may have taken my body,
scattered me with your bomb
for my son to find, part by part,
but my body was only a bonehouse.

I was more than skin and sinew,
more than blood and cells,
more than brain and heart.
I was questions and I was answers,
I was truth and I was freedom.

Listen well,
all you corrupt men:
I was love.
Listen again:
I still am.

Nuala O’Connor

How to Destroy a Memorial

The yellow throated crocus 
will still speak out.

Wax will keep 
its vigil in the hive. 

Into the ear of each wave 
the sea daffodil whispers your name.

The torn messages 
begin to hum –

the Gregal carries news
on the wires of its breath.

The leaking ink 
stains each grain of sand

which strafe the face 
of Valetta 

stick as grit 
in its eye, keep its throat raw.

Nell Regan

Voices under the Sun

On the remote island of Malta 
Mediterranean is in its bloom, boiling inside
Here it was, according to some – a lost city of Atlantis
The lighthouse is torn and the horizon melts indivisible
There is a vigil across from the courthouse in Valletta
We will not yield until truth is told, voices are saying
Here now the earth is rotten and numb
Covering the roots of sinister crime.

Tomica Bajsić


Under the sustained sadness
Under the liquid glance of your four family men,
Father and sons speaking to the cameras,
Under the flowers, destroyed but replaced,
On the field where your word
Was set on fire, put to ashes,
An outraged archeology is resting, maybe waiting,
While moist webs are becoming solid
And echoes of anger
Keep becoming stone, or just paper,
Which never forgets,
Just like sheer anger
Should never become mere sorrow.

Teresa Salema (Portuguese PEN)

A la mémoire de Daphne Caruana Galizia

Pourquoi est-ce qu’on te tue
parcequ’on t’a bien vu
parcequ’on déteste
l’humanité et le reste!

Daphne, ta vie était un grand sacrifice
pour la découverte des crimes et des vices
pour trouver la vérité et garder la justice!

Mais il faut lutter pour la liberté
néanmoins il faut croire en fraternité!

Vera Botterbusch


If I was a poet, Daphne, I’d write a line to guide
you home, rewind that yarn – Ariadne’s trick.
Island-born like you, sick of cruelty and greed 
seeding blood-soaked stone, blackened bone.
I’d build walls of words to shelter you. I’d feed you 
figs, salted olives too; restore you to your desk 
that day – Crooks, everywhere you look. You’d 
Save, you’d stay. Your lines, straight and true,

cut right through lies, the ties that bind so many 
tongues, roll back the blinds from careless minds. 
We hear you, here. Let this space, these 
awkward lines of mine, remember you.


Malta: How free I was there

As in a circle, the Bus Stops taken
Hop-on, Hop-off – without guidance
On all sides Water, fishing boats, colors
Drinkable the ocean

The Grand Harbour market
For  smugglers of goods and thoughts
I try my hand as a silver-plater of words
With my bookish past

Churches and palaces
Yachts and limousines
A world straight out of a film
For the package tourist, who
Leaves it on the surface

Ralph Grüneberger

Translation: Ron Horwege

أحمد العجمي

في هذا الليلِ الباردِ

دعني أصرُخُ، 
إن كانت صرخاتي ستوقظُ
مِصباحَ العدالة.

لا أمتلكُ قوةً عضليةً،
ولا رصاصاً ولا مخالبَ،
لكنّ صرختي تُدهشُ الريحَ،
والذينَ ليس لهم غيوم.

أحلامٌ كثيرةٌ ابتلعَها الجمودُ
و لم يصرخْ أحدٌ فيها،
ولا مِنْ أجلِها،
وصار المطرُ يبتعدُ عن الثياب.
على الصرخةِ أن ترحلَ
من كتابٍ إلى نهرٍ
لتتجاوزَ العالمَ الخالي
من الأنوارِ،
ثمّ ترّتدُ إلى صدري، لتنمو.

كُلُّ الظروفِ مهيأةٌ؛
زاويةُ الميلان، ارتفاعُ الفقر،
ضخامةُ الفسادِ،
الضوءُ والموسيقى،
فلتصرخْ، داخلي، جميعُ الحجارةِ

Ahmed Alajmi