According to Unesco, of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world, more than half are endangered, with one disappearing every two weeks. This collection of 50 poems celebrates and preserves these unique voices and takes the reader on a global journey of discovery.
One language is falling silent every two weeks. Half of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today will be lost by the end of this century. With the loss of these languages, we also lose the unique poetic traditions of their speakers and writers.
Poems from the Edge of Extinction gathers together 50 poems in languages from around the world that have been identified as endangered; it is a celebration of our linguistic diversity and a reminder of our commonalities and the fundamental role verbal art plays in human life around the world. With poems by influential, award-winning poets such as US poet laureate Joy Harjo, Hawad, Valzhyna Mort, and Jackie Kay, this anthology offers a unique insight into both languages and poetry, taking the reader on an emotional, life-affirming journey into the culture of these beautiful languages.
Each poem appears in its original form, alongside an English translation, and is accompanied by a commentary about the language, the poet and the poem - in a vibrant celebration of life, diversity, language, and the enduring power of poetry.
This timely collection is passionately edited by widely published poet and UK National Poetry Librarian, Chris McCabe, who is also the founder of the Endangered Poetry Project, a major project launched by London's Southbank Centre to collect poetry in the world's disappearing languages, and introduced by Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme and the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University of London, and Dr Martin Orwin, Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic, SOAS University of London.
Languages included in the book: Assyrian; Belarusian; Chimiini; Irish Gaelic; Maori; Navajo; Patua; Rotuman; Saami; Scottish Gaelic; Welsh; Yiddish; Zoque.
Poets included in the book: Joy Harjo; Hawad; Jackie Kay; Aurelia Lassaque; Nineb Lamassu; Gearoid Mac Lochlainn; Valzhyna Mort; Laura Tohe; Taniel Varoujan; Avrom Sutzkever.
Thrilling - and moving too. The cumulative effect is a celebration of the brotherhood of peoples. Grandparents, home, grief, fear, pride, anger - all this and more is yet another reminder that 'this place', the world, is indeed 'beautiful' and it's only the passionate sharing of thoughts and feelings that can keep it that way. - Daily Mail
Share[s] folklore, songs and a richness of world views with a vivacity that heightens their collective call to protect the planet's linguistic, and cultural, ecosystem - Financial Times
Chris McCabe is National Poetry Librarian at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library, where he launched the Endangered Poetry Project in 2017, a major project to collect poetry written in the world's disappearing languages - the basis for his first anthology with Chambers, Poems from the Edge of Extinction (2019). Shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, his work has been described by The Guardian as 'an impressively inventive survey of English in the 21st Century'. His previously published work crosses artforms and genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and visual art.