Transreading Endangered Languages (Spring 2021)

Transreading Endangered Languages (Spring 2021)

Explore writing in endangered languages, consider the politics of translation, and push your own poetry in completely new directions.

It is estimated that half of the world’s 7,000 languages will fall silent by the end of the century. 2019 was the UN Year of Indigenous Languages and saw the publication of the landmark anthology Poems from the Edge of Extinction, edited by Chris McCabe, which includes work from 50 poets whose language is identified as in some way vulnerable, as well as Modern Poetry in Translation’s issue I Have Not Known a Grief Like This: Focus on Extinction. Starting from these two texts, this Transreading course will explore contemporary poets writing in endangered languages, alongside the politics of translating them. 

Engaging with poems from endangered languages around the world we will think about untranslatable words and the insight they give into different cultures; discover new forms such as the Zos collected by Zubair Torwali; explore the link between endangered languages and endangered ecosystems in Mexico and the Pacific; and look at how the eradication of languages is often a colonial project, via the inspiring work of poet-activists such as Mikeas Sánchez, Natalie Diaz, and Menna Elfyn. Inspired by Jay G Ying’s new version of the Sumerian epic ‘The Descent of Inanna’, we will also make our own versions of poems in extinct languages. This course will be a chance to discover poetries from around the world, take your poetry in new completely new directions, and think how you can help with the preservation and amplification of poetry in indigenous languages. 

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

Image Credit: João Silas

About Clare Pollard View Profile

Clare Pollard has published five collections of poetry with Bloodaxe. She edits Modern Poetry in Translation. Her latest book is Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books (Penguin, 2019). 

‘I am living in Japan but the Poetry School always reveals me boundless fresh horizons, whether physically, intellectually or mentally.’

– Summer 2020 survey response

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