Endangered Poetry Initiative

Poet Cecilia Vicuña by George Hirose

During the People’s Poetry Gathering, City Lore worked with artists from a wide range of poetic traditions.  Through these collaborations, performances, dialogues, and panel discussions, we were inspired to develop a more focused initiative on contested and endangered languages.  The People’s Poetry Gathering dedicated its 2006 festival to the poetry of languages such as Irish, Welsh, Basque, Mapuche, and Kuranko.  Their poetic traditions offer a means of expressing identity and human interrelationships, understanding time and space,  specific and subtle ways of apprehending the world.  After the festival, City Lore launched a long term project to feature, disseminate, and document poetry in endangered languages to help assure these distinct visions will not be lost upon the world. While we cannot stem the tide against the spread of the English and other major languages, it is our aim to bring the extraordinary poetry from the world’s threatened languages and dialects to a wider audience, and to raise public awareness of the cultural devastation taking place around the globe as languages and dialects are lost.

Since 2006, City Lore has sponsored such programs as fieldwork on the Kuranko language epic Finah Misa Kule in Sierra Leone; the Cultural and Biological Diversity performances at the American Museum of Natural History; Tigrinya Oral Poetry from the Horn of Africa and Poetry from the Rooftop of the World (Nepalese) at the Bowery Poetry Club; translations of Georgian poetry in cooperation with the Shota Rustaveli Institute in Tblisi, Georgia, and Lost Wor(l)ds: the Endangered Cento, a 100 line tribute poem composed of selections from the world’s endangered languages.

Media and print from selected programs as well as our Declaration of Poetic Rights can be found by clicking the links below.

Declaration of Poetic Rights

Program Book from The Stones of Civilization

The Tigrinya epic Negusse, Negusse from African Word Feast

Lost Wor(l)ds: the Endangered Cento

Selections of Somali Poetry

Selections of Georgian Poetry

 

 

 

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