Arts and Culture

Manchester set to celebrate International Mother Language Day 2023

Manchester’s celebrations for International Mother Language Day 2023 are set to return with two months of festivities. 

Beginning on 1 February with multiple exhibitions opening in Manchester Central Library, the string of events will also grace Manchester Museum just days after its reopening. 

Over two hundred languages are spoken across Manchester, making the city one of the most multilingual in the UK. 

The day itself is 21 February and, as ever, it will commemorate the city’s language diversity and its citizens’ heritage. 

As well as running workshops and family events, IMLD will host online panels addressing ways to protect and champion multilingualism.

Central to the celebrations is ‘Words from the Childhood Home’, a chain poem written by nominated poets representing UNESCO Cities of Literature. 

The poem was started by Anjum Malik, a Manchester Multilingual City Poet and senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, who writes in her mother tongue of Urdu. 

After writing four stanzas about her childhood home, the poem was passed on to another poet responding to Anjum’s words in their own language. 

In total there are over ten participating cities and poets, spanning from South Korea to Ukraine. 

Reece Williams, Community Engagement Manager for Manchester City of Literature, said: “Reflecting on the power of family (and all the forms that this takes), native languages and memory, we have collectively produced a stunning poem which captures the rich nuances of the poets’ lived childhoods.

“We hope the poem will help the people of Manchester (and the world) to see themselves reflected in the words of the poets, irrespective of their mother tongue. 

“We also want to celebrate the power of family and its role in shaping who we become.”

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