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  • John Murray Learning
  • John Murray Learning

Poems from the Edge of Extinction: The Beautiful New Treasury of Poetry in Endangered Languages, in Association with the National Poetry Library

Chris McCabe

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Poetry anthologies (various poets)

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.

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Chris McCabe

Chris McCabe's poetry collections are The Hutton Inquiry, Zeppelins, THE RESTRUCTURE (all Salt Publishing) and, most recently, Speculatrix (Penned in the Margins). He has recorded a CD with the Poetry Archive was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides, Pharmapoetica. His plays Shad Thames, Broken Wharf and Mudflats, which won a Northern Arts Award, have been performed in London and Liverpool. He has read his work at venues including Southbank Centre, the British Library, the BFI, the Whitechapel Gallery and the Wellcome as well as performing at festivals such as Latitude and Ledbury.

He is writing a series of creative non-fiction books that aim to discover a great lost poet in one of London's Magnificent Seven cemeteries. This began in 2014 with In the Catacombs: a Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery (which was selected as an LRB Bookshop book of the year) and was followed in 2016 with Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery. The project has been awarded Grants for Arts funding from Arts Council England. He is also the author of Real South Bank (Seren, 2016) and with Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). His first novel, Dedalus, will be published by Henningham Family Press in 2018.

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