literature & poetry

Poems from the Edge of Extinction

Part of Poetry International

Join us for the launch of a groundbreaking anthology of poetry from around the world written in endangered languages.

Edited by National Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe, this anthology brings together poets from each continent to highlight the pressures their languages are placed under and to celebrate their work as poets and activists.

Poems from the Edge of Extinction had its beginnings in the Endangered Poetry Project, which was launched during 2017’s Poetry International.

The anthology brings together some of the most dynamic and engaging poets at work around the world today whose languages are under threat for reasons as diverse as political upheaval, climate breakdown, genocide, war and the enduring impact of colonialism.

Poets included in Poems from the Edge of Extinction, published by John Murray, are as follows:

James Byrne is a poet, editor and translator. His most recent collections are: The Caprices, Everything Broken Up Dances and White Coins. After recently travelling to Bangladesh, he co-edited I Am a Rohingya (with Shehzar Doja), the first anthology of Rohingya poetry in the West. Connected to various international poetries, Byrne's poetry has been described by Forrest Gander as 'like gulping firewater shots of the world'.

Shehzar Doja is a poet and founder of the The Luxembourg Review. His work has appeared in New Welsh Review, Pratik, Modern Poetry in Translation and more. His poetry collection Drift was published in 2016 and he co-edited the poetry collection I Am a Rohingya with James Byrne.

Amazigh poet and painter of the Sahara desert, Hawad is an Amajagh (Tuareg). His original manuscripts are in Tamajaght language written in Tifinagh, the Tuareg alphabet. Hawad’s literary and graphic work reflects his philosophy of space and ‘wandering’. Can one still live as a Tuareg nomad today? Can one continue to walk on multifarious paths that open into ever-changing horizons?

Nineb Lamassu is an Assyrian-Iraqi poet who writes his poetry in his endangered Assyrian language. His poetry has been translated into a number of languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, English, Spanish and Swedish. Lamassu is a UK resident who has recently returned to work in Iraq as a Peacebuilding Advisor for an INGO.

Valzhyna Mort is the author of two poetry collections, Factory of Tears and Collected Body. She is a recipient of the Lannan foundation fellowship, the Amy Clampitt fellowship, the Bess Hokins prize from Poetry and the Gulf Coast Journal Prize in translation. Born in Minsk, Belarus, she teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian. Her new book, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, is coming out in 2020 from FSG.

Vaughan Rapatahana commutes between Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is published in both his main languages, te reo Maori and English. His poetry collection Atonement was nominated for a National Book Award in Philippines in 2016, won the inaugural Proverse Poetry Prize the same year, and was included in Best New Zealand Poems 2017.

Laura Tohe is Diné of the Sleepy Rock People clan and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2017 – 2019. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water and Code Talker Stories. Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony, and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World for Opera de Rouen. She is the recipient of the American Indian Festival of Words Writers Award and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award.

Stephen Watts is a poet and translator. He feels poetry as energy and breath, as body and spirit. Recent books of his include Ancient Sunlight and Republic Of Dogs / Republic Of Birds from which a film The Republics has been made by Huw Wahl. Since 1977 Watts has lived mostly in London's Whitechapel, working as a poet on issues of language in schools, hospitals, drop-in centres and in the discussion of shared speech, health and wellbeing. Watts also researches international poetries and his own poetry has been translated into many languages.

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Purcell Room


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For ages 16+

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Multi-buy discount
Book three or more literature and poetry events in the same transaction and receive a 25% discount. Selected events only.