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PEN International Video Poem Marathon 2023 in Indigenous and Minoritized Languages

May 03, 2023 IN WIP
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The 3rd edition of the Video Poem Marathon 2023 in Indigenous and Minoritized Languages has been a huge success. We have published 70 videos between February 21 and March 21, 2023.  These are just some of the figures of this 3rd edition:


– 70 languages, 2/3 of them participating for the first time at the Video Poem Marathon.

– 38 female poets, 32 male poets

– 22 poems from Africa, 14 from Asia, 14 from Europe, 2 from Oceania, 18 from the Americas.

– 25 PEN Centres, nine of them participating for the first time, also good literary friends in Indigenous associations like Ituîka and Colectivo Aj’tzib’

– Poems submitted for the first time from Greenland, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Namibia, USA, Uganda, Faroe Islands, Ghana, Guinea Bissau and Sri Lanka.


The participation from Africa has been simply extraordinary, showing the importance of all these languages even when the former colonial languages continue to be official in their countries. Remarkable as well the number of Maya poets from Guatemala, the brave poets writing in harsh conditions in Hazaragi, Crimean Tatar, Kurdish or Circassian, and the courageous poets from Myanmar, Ukraine or Belarus.


After 3 years, we have gathered poems in more than 110 languages. Indigenous languages, minoritized languages, small languages… more than 110 tongues that are too often neglected. That is why we want to MAKE SILENCED LANGUAGES VISIBLE.


The  PEN-TLRC YouTube channels had 55 people subscribed in early February. Now we have almost 150 subscribers. Important increase in Twitter, too. The Facebook TLRC Group has 375 members. You are more than welcome to join any of these channels, of course.


More importantly, every poet is really happy about their participation in the Marathon, and so are everyone else involved from their linguistic community.


Altogether there have been 3,700 views since we published the first videos on February 21.  We know though, that among so many languages, poets and fantastic videos, some of them do not always get the attention they deserve. Therefore, we want to stress that, even if the Marathon 2023 is finished, the video-poems are there, online, for everyone to watch, enjoy, share and even use them in their own languages. We encourage you to stop for a moment in our YouTube channel, to start watching a couple of poems, from the continent and language you prefer. We are convinced you will love them, and we would appreciate if you could spread the word in your own PEN Centre and literary and cultural colleagues, if you could share the videos you like most by phone and, why not, if you really love some of these voices, we are sure they will love to know that their poem has been translated into your own language.


Thank you, and best regards,


Urtzi Urrutikoetxea

Chair of the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee of PEN International

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International