30 Nov 2019

Chris McCabe and Vaughan Rapatahana- preserving poetry in endangered languages

From Saturday Morning, 9:37 am on 30 November 2019

The diversity of the world's languages is seriously under threat. One language is reported to fall silent every fortnight, and it's believed that by the end of this century half of the world's 7,000 languages will be lost.

It's against this backdrop that the anthology Poems from the Edge of Extinction appears. In it poet and editor Chris McCabe, the UK's National Poetry Librarian, collects together 50 poems from around the world written in languages that are under threat: from Assyrian to Zoque, from Chimiini to Rotuman and Scottish Gaelic.

Meanwhile, the Māori poet and writer Vaughan Rapatahana features in the collection and shares some of his work in te Reo. So what might be lost if these languages vanish? Why are they disappearing at such an alarming rate? And how can poetry help?

Chris McCabe and Vaughn Rapatahana

Chris McCabe and Vaughn Rapatahana Photo: Supplied