John Murray Press has acquired an anthology of 50 poems written in endangered languages, accompanied by translations and commentaries.
Commissioning editor Emma Green, acquired world rights directly from the book's editor Chris McCabe. The collection, Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages will be published in hardback and e-book on 5th September 2019, during the UNESCO year of indigenous languages.
The publisher explained: “With one of the world’s 7,000 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 Hawad in Tamajaght.”
McCabe is national poetry librarian at Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library where he launched the “Endangered Poetry Project” in 2017, a major move 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 at SOAS and member of the Centre for Translation Studies where he researches poetry translation.
Green said: “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.”
McCabe added: "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 at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library, 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 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."