“As our network of UNESCO Creative Cities welcomes new languages to its family, celebrating International Translation Day carries added relevance, with language exchange being at the heart of the values that our network cherishes.It gives us immense pride as Slemani UNESCO Creative City of Literature to lead International Translation Day on behalf of the network.
International Translation Day will be the right platform to highlight the breadth of languages that are represented in the UNESCO designated creative cities.” said Sarwar Taha, director of Slemani City of Literature and the project lead.
International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding, and cooperation, contributing to the development, and strengthening world peace and security – all things at the heart of the Cities of Literature network, especially as they get ready to welcome more cities to the network later this year.
Around the world, fellow Creative Cities of Literature will get involved in the celebrations by translating W.S. Merwin’s poem, “From the Start, into a language spoken in their city, and inviting anyone who speaks any language, dialect or has interest in the work to share and post it on social media on 30th September using hashtags: #COLTranslates #ITD #InternationalTranslationDay.
UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature taking part in the project include Odessa, Utrecht, Leeuwarden, Reykjavik, Bucheon, Granada, Dublin, Iowa City, Edinburgh, Manchester, Krakow, Kuhmo, Ulyanovsk, Heidelberg, Quebec, Tartu and Nanjing.
Merwin’s poem is on theme of language. The poem’s concept and length resonate perfectly with International Translation Day to promote the vast number of languages spoken across the 39 UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature. September 30th is also Merwin’s birthday.
“Hearing one another’s stories is the best way to build empathy in our increasingly fractured world, and the art of literary translation is one of the best tools we have to spread those stories across the globe,” said John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature and coordinator for the Cities of Literature.
Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education, and development, are of strategic importance for people and the planet. The Cities of Literature are passionate about the preservation and celebration of language and translation to bring us all closer together.