Poem in 64 languages written by school children displayed in Manchester

A brand-new multi-lingual poem incorporating an incredible 64 different languages and written mostly by school children, takes pride of place in Manchester Central Library for the next year.

Local school children and community groups have been invited over the last year to add new lines to a poem ‘Made in Manchester’ written by local poet Zahid Hussain.

What makes the poem unique however is that the youngsters and others were all asked to contribute lines written in their own heritage language, to highlight the cultural diversity of the city – a city that is proud to be called home by people speaking more than 200 different languages.

The finished poem in all its multi-lingual glory is now on display in Manchester Central Library – where it is being shown for the next year alongside an English translation of it.

The two versions of the poem – the multi-lingual original and the translated English version – will be displayed on two screens next to each other, that scroll in tandem through the poem, with one screen scrolling through the original version and the second screen through the English translation.

A short film featuring an abridged version of the poem read in their own languages by some of the young contributors has also been made and is now available on-line.

The idea for the poem originated from a conversation between poet Zahid Hussain and Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure.

They wanted to find a way of showing just how diverse and yet how united the city and its different communities are. In a city where at least 200 different languages are spoken every day it seemed a perfect fit to show this diversity using the power of words and language.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “It’s very moving to see and to read and demonstrates perfectly the strong sense of belonging, identity, and shared community spirit that is found throughout the city.

It’s intended that the poem will be passed on to Manchester Metropolitan University’s brand-new Poetry Library – due to open in 2020 – where it’s hoped the poem will continue to be added to with more languages, just as the number of languages spoken in the city continues also to grow.

TNT Arts & Culture

Photo Credit: Manchester City Council

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