John Murray signs endangered language poetry anthology

Rights - Fiction Thursday, 21 March 2019

Poems from the Edge of Extinction, edited by Chris McCabe, gathers 50 poems in world languages such as Native American Mvskoke and Irish Gaelic

Emma Green, commissioning editor at John Murray Press, has signed world rights to Poems from the Edge of Extinction: An Anthology of Poetry in Endangered Languages, edited by Chris McCabe. John Murray Press will publish under its Chambers imprint during the UNESCO year of indigenous languages, on 5 September 2019, in hardback and ebook.

Poems from the Edge of Extinction gathers together 50 poems in languages from around the world that have been identified as endangered, and offers 'a unique insight into the culture of these beautiful, vulnerable languages through the voices of their poets.'

It includes poems by both new and established poets, such as 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, designed to collect poetry written in the world's dying languages. His previously published work crossing artforms and genres including fiction, non-fiction, drama and visual art. Shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, his work has been described by The Guardian as 'an impressively inventive survey of English in the 21st Century.'

McCabe said: "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 have 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."

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."

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