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International Mother Language Day 2022



          It has been an extraordinary month. The Poetry Marathon organized by PEN International’s Translation and Linguistic Committee has just finished. This 2nd Marathon had an important difference with the first edition: while in 2021 all the poems were published in a single day, this year we have had videos for a whole month, between Mother Language Day on February 21st, and World Poetry Day on March 21st. You can see every video in our YouTube channel, or in this same group, or as a thread in Twitter. 


          The response of writers, PEN centers, literary associations and organizations promoting linguistic and indigenous rights has been incredible. The work of the PEN members and the staff in London has been superb. There is so many people I need to thank, and first of all, Pavlo. This edition we have had him less than ever before due to the injust war launched against his country and yet, his presence is in every video, every template, every subtitle. He made such a brilliant work before the Mother Language Day, preparing every template and organizing the YouTube channel for our Committee, that we have been able to continue by ourselves while he had to attend much more urgent problems in his country. Thank you as well, to Olha, for her continuous support whenever was needed. Our gratitude, of course, to the whole staff in London, and the same for the TLRC working group, who are always available and giving their best.


          Thank you Santiago, Danson, Jorgen and specially, Raffaella, who has been working tirelessly searching in so many different countries. Merci and gracias, Salil, Thida, Alix, Folu, Maximilia, Cicerón, Alicia, Fatima and everyone else involved in this fascinating journey.


          Apologies for the mistakes that, surely, have been committed among so many contacts, emails, whatsapps, videos, poems, subtitles and languages. We did our best, and we promise to do it even better next time. We tried to make some room to every poem and author, but we are well aware that not everybody could be accommodated. We appreciate greatly your interest in the project, and we encourage those who did not submit or whose submission couldn’t be arranged this year, to stay in contact and participate again.


          During these 4 weeks, 46 video-poems have been shared, equally from 23 female and 23 male poets. They have been viewed more than 1,000 times. We are delighted, specially, with the enthusiasm of the African authors, PEN centers and other associations like Ituika: we had 13 poems, 13 languages, from Guinea and Mali to Kenya, from Nigeria to Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. We are convinced this was just the beginning of a long path to walk together.

Many thanks to the rest, too: from the Caucasus to Polynesia, from the Gaelic Ireland to Afghanistan, from Sápmi in northern Europe to the Günün a Küna people revitalizing their language in southern Argentine.


          Languages with a handful of speakers and languages used by dozens of millions. This has been a wonderful 29-day-trip, the first activity of PEN International’s Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee in this International Decade of Indigenous Languages . 10 years starting now, where unfortunately some languages may vanish but, at the same time, many others -and their speakers- will be empowered, will gain consciousness of the treasure they keep in their tongues, in their songs, in their memories and literary creativity.

Zorionak eta eskerrik asko.

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