News | Thursday, 14th February 2019
Multilingual poetry events to celebrate International Mother Language Day
Poets and artists have worked with schoolchildren to create food poetry
Manchester schoolchildren will write and perform their own multilingual poetry on International Mother Language Day 2019 – all with the help of University poets and artists.
In anticipation of Manchester Poetry Library, opening in 2020, and to celebrate the city’s UNESCO City of Literature status, the Multi-Lingual Mushaira is one of a series of events which celebrate Manchester’s rich and varied linguistic mix.
Manchester Writing School poet Anjum Malik and Professor of Textiles Alice Kettle have worked closely with Emma Martin, lead artist from Stanley Grove Primary Academy in Longsight and Manchester City Council’s libraries team, to help schoolchildren write poetry and create giant picnic rugs on the theme of food and food cultures.
Malik has used her own food poems to inspire students and teachers, sharing the traditions of Ghazal style poems from Urdu and Farsi/Persian literature to inspire them to write poems about their own favourite foods and food stories.
This is one of a series of projects and events celebrating the diverse languages and literary cultures of Manchester, as a newly designated UNESCO City of Literature.
These include poems written in Bangla, Polish, Chinese and Urdu, which will be performed at the Multi-Language Mushaira – a lively and interactive poetry performance event traditionally performed in Urdu and other South Asian languages – at a special event at Longsight Library to mark International Mother Language Day (February 21).
Earlier in the day, four Manchester libraries host a series of workshops for people to drop in and record their own multi-lingual poetry in specially designed poetry pods created by textile students overseen by Alice Kettle. These will be shared on social media throughout the day using the hashtag #MCRmushaira.
International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance to raise awareness of multiculturalism and promote multilingualism. A series of events in Manchester is planned under the umbrella of UNESCO City of Literature.
Elsewhere, Manchester Writing School lecturer and poet Sarah Butler will take part in a Poetry Exchange event at Manchester Central Library.
In 2020 Manchester Metropolitan will open the UK’s fourth dedicated poetry library, part of whose mission will be to reflect the linguistic diversity of our city.
Visitors will be encouraged to bring along their favourite poem, in any language, to start a conversation about what the work means to them. These will be performed, and the recordings captured in a podcast.
Dr Jess Edwards, Head of English at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Last year Manchester Metropolitan marked International Mother Language Day with a mushaira – an evening of Urdu poetry performances celebrating one of Manchester’s major mother tongues. This year, we and our partners, are upping the ante with a Multi-Lingual Mushaira.
“This is one of a series of projects and events celebrating the diverse languages and literary cultures of Manchester, as a newly designated UNESCO City of Literature. In 2020 Manchester Metropolitan will open the UK’s fourth dedicated poetry library, part of whose mission will be to reflect the linguistic diversity of our city.”
Emma Martin said: “It has been wonderful working with so many schools creating poetry and artwork inspired by the sharing of food. Manchester’s Multi-Language Mushaira has been an opportunity to connect people, schools and cultural assets together to celebrate our community's creativity.”
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, said: "As a UNESCO City of Literature, Manchester is a place where libraries are places where the strength of our diverse communities is celebrated. We're very happy that this year's International Mother Language Day will be extra spectacular, with the added theme of Mushaira. It is a fantastic day, with a real family focus."
The International Mother Language Day events are a curtain raiser for Manchester Poetry Library – the North West’s first public poetry library.
Opening in Spring 2020, the Poetry Library will widen access to poetry and support the creation of new writing from primary school level up to professional publication.
As well as stocking 19th, 20th and 21st century poetry in English, the Manchester Poetry Library will place a special focus on audio recording and poetry in Manchester’s 200 different community languages, and will host festivals, readings, mushairas and translation workshops in a variety of languages.