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Endangered Poetry Project

Languages are dying at the rate of every two weeks. Of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world over half of these are endangered. By the end of the century half the world’s current languages will be lost which will also mean the loss of unique poetic traditions.

Lost languages MUSIC

The National Poetry Library here at Southbank Centre believes it is vital that an attempt is made to capture this poetic activity for future generations and on National Poetry Day 2017 launched the Endangered Poetry Project.

Do you know a poem in an endangered language? If so then we would like to hear from you! Through poems submitted by the public the library we will build a collection of works, providing a resource for those interested in reading poems in languages that are under threat.

How can you help?

If you know a poem in an endangered language you can use the form linked below to submit this to the library.

submit a poem

Want to submit a poem, but not sure whether it’s what we’re after? Take a look at the questions and answers below for guidance.

How do I know if a poem is in an endangered language or not?

You can look at the UNESCO map of endangered languages.

check out the map

Can I send poems I have written?

Only if you are the author of a well known poem in your language. The primary focus of the project is to collect poems that are known within the culture in which they have been written. The library would like to get a sense of how poems become embedded in their cultures, shared and known by others.

Would you also like and English-language version of the poem?

Yes please! Although this isn’t essential, this would be very welcome. Please state on the form if you made this translation yourself, if not please give the name of the translator.

What does Southbank Centre want the poems for?

Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library is launching its Endangered Poetry Project and welcomes your participation to ensure that as many languages as possible can be included.

How do I submit my poems?

We would like poems in both written and audio formats. For some languages only oral versions will be known; for written languages the library would like both written and spoken versions wherever possible. Written versions can be attached to the form as PDF or Word documents. Audio versions can be attached as MP3 files up to a maximum of 10 MB.

When do I need to send this in by?

The call-out for poems begins on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28 September 2017 and runs until Sunday 23 September 2018.

How long will the library keep hold of the poems that it's sent?

The library is aiming to collect at least one poem in each language it receives which will then become part of the library's holdings.

Will the library return the poems it doesn't want to keep?

The form asks purely for versions of poems as documents or audio files, please keep hold of your originals. Southbank Centre is not able to return any of the files submitted.