You are here

Poems from the Edge of Extinction

Our Endangered Poetry Project takes on a new life in an anthology of poetry in endangered languages, which will be published by John Murray Press and edited by National Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe.

Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages will be published on National Poetry Day 2019 and during the UNESCO year of indigenous languages.

Poems from the Edge of Extinction gathers together 50 poems in languages from around the world that have been identified as endangered, and offers a unique insight into the culture of these beautiful, vulnerable languages through the voices of their poets.

With one of the world’s 7000 languages disappearing every two weeks, and with them their poetic traditions, this anthology, with accompanying English translations and commentaries, aims to preserve and reclaim voices which will otherwise fall silent. It includes poems by both new and established poets, such as award-winning Joy Harjo in Native American Mvskoke (Creek) Nation, Gearóid Mac Lochlainn in Irish Gaelic, Nineb Lamassu in Assyrian, and Jackie Kay in Scots.

The Endangered Poetry Project was launched in 2017, a major project to collect poetry written in the world's dying languages.

The book will be introduced by Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Director of the SOAS World Languages Institute and Head of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, and Dr Martin Orwin, Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic and member of the Centre for Translation Studies where he researches poetry translation.

This book has grown from a simple idea I had in my role as National Poetry Librarian: to collect poems spoken or written in endangered languages throughout the world, which would help to document our understanding of how poetry exists globally. Following the launch of the Endangered Poetry Project, the conversations and encounters I've had with poets and translators from all over the world has continued, and I'm delighted to be working with John Murray Learning to showcase the most interesting of this work in Poems from the Edge of Extinction. I hope readers of the book will be as moved as I am by the urgency, invention and sheer range of poetry as it exists on every continent.
Chris McCabe, National Poetry Librarian
I’m extremely proud to be publishing this book and hope that, in showcasing this carefully curated collection of poems in endangered languages from across the globe, it will raise awareness of this huge, urgent cultural and political issue, and demonstrate our commitment to representing a diverse range of rare languages.
Emma Green, Commissioning editor at John Murray

If you know a poem in an endangered language, you can still contribute to the Endangered Poetry Project.

find out more