Manchester City of Literature Announces 5th Annual International Mother Language Day

Manchester City of Literature and partners return for 2022 with a three-week celebration of live and digital events running between 17th February – 8th March, centered around UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day (IMLD), which is celebrated globally on 21st February.

Manchester, known as the ‘UK’s language capital’ with over 200 spoken languages, will come together for a celebration of cultural diversity, for all generations, taking in poetry, translation, community identity and international connections, and involving libraries, cultural venues, community groups, universities, schools, poets and writers.

Highlights include: Cooking with Words, a creative feast from writer Anjum Malik and the chefs at the award-winning Zouk Tea Bar & Grill; the opportunity to contribute to the multilingual ‘Made in Manchester’ poem, which so far features verses in over 70 languages; family fun days at venues across the city; and the unveiling of Manchester’s multilingual City Poets, who will be appointed to produce five original poems on behalf of the City throughout 2022.

This is Manchester’s fifth consecutive IMLD series, and this year 2022 the cultural content of the program is increasing, making international links with other UNESCO Creative Cities, particularly through online platforms, in addition to events across the city at venues including Manchester Libraries, Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University and Creative Manchester, and many more.

In 2019 and 2020 over 5,000 people engaged with activity across Manchester’s city center and neighbourhoods, and in 2021, 18 digital events ensured the significance of languages ​​to Manchester was still honored, even while the nation had to stay at home during the pandemic.

IMLD has been observed globally since 2000 and has important historical roots. In Bangladesh 21st February is the anniversary of the day when Bangladeshis fought for recognition for the Bangla language.

Highlights include:

Thursday 17th Feb

Launch of Multilingual City Poets

Manchester City of Literature

Manchester City of Literature has created the new Manchester City Poets team to work across its partnership network, acting as ambassadors for Manchester’s residents, communities, and literature organisations.

The City Poet roles carry a civic responsibility, much like conventional Poet Laureate designations, and the appointees will be commissioned to produce five original poems on behalf of the City.

Three of these poems will respond to Manchester Day, World Poetry Day and the Festival of Libraries; all of which will be taking place in 2022. The two other commissioned poems will be delivered to respond to other exciting public events, projects and community outreach programs coordinated by Manchester City of Literature and its partnership network. The poets will also translate other poets’ writing.

Manchester has a rich literary tradition, as home to some exceptional and high-profile poets, a thriving poetry and spoken word scene, awarding-winning publishers and writing development agencies and libraries which place writing and community outreach at the heart of their work. This heritage is represented in Manchester’s designation as an UNESCO City of Literature in 2017.

Saturday 19th February

11am, 1pm and 3pm

Little Bridges: A celebration of poetry for International Mother Language Day

Manchester Poetry Library

Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University is celebrating poetry at an open day for International Mother Language Day 2022. View special displays of books from our co-curated languages ​​programme. Contribute to the multilingual ‘Made in Manchester’ poem, which so far features verses in over 70 languages.

There will be three free events:

  • 11am: Poet Lydia Hounat discusses the curation of Manchester Poetry Library’s Imazighen poetry collection. The discussion will center around the orality of Imazighen literature and representations of Imazighen symbology and history.
  • 1 pm: Debjani Chatterjee, Simon Fletcher and Basir Sultan Kazmi celebrate the 25th anniversary of the publication of their book, A Little Bridge by Pennine Pens. As Mini Mushaira writers they have toured multilingual poetry performances and run poetry workshops throughout the country and we look forward to welcoming them to Manchester Poetry Library for this special celebration.
  • 3pm: Readings from No, Love Is Not Dead: An Anthology of Love Poetry from Around the World edited by Chris McCabe. Chris will be in conversation with contributor and special guest the poet, writer, librettist, scholar of Indigenous American Literature and Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, Laura Tohe.

Sunday 20th February

14:00 – 16:00

Cooking with Words, Anjum Malik

Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, Oxford Road

Working with local restaurant Zouk Tea Bar & Grill, writer Anjum Malik will collaborate with the chefs and incorporate their recipes to cook up new multilingual poetry that responds to experiences of South Asian culture.

At this afternoon event, the award-winning Zouk head chefs will be crafting some very special dishes to reflect International Mother Language Day and its uniqueness.

Anjum Malik will perform the new writing during the event, where you can get a ticket to dine and be an audience member for the evening, immersing yourself in the tastes and cultures of International Mother Language Day in Manchester. This event promises to leave bellies and hearts equally full.

Booking information will be available soon, please note that there will be a limited number of 45 tickets available to the general public.

Monday 21st Feb


Family Fun Day for International Mother Language Day

Central Library and Manchester Libraries

Communities across Manchester will come together to enjoy an afternoon of celebration for all the family. Sharing their stories, language, music, dance and food, it is sure to be a joyful gathering.

Confirmed for this year are the Lithuanian Community, and for the first time in our event history, members of both the Libyan and Moroccan Amazigh community will be joining together to share their cultural heritage with everyone.

Wednesday 23rd Feb


Kathputli Utsav – A Festival of Traditional Indian Arts

University of Manchester – Creative Manchester and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Unit

3204 University Place, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 3PL

Celebrate International Mother Language Day with Kathputli Utsav – A Festival of Traditional Indian Arts.

Kathputli Utsav celebrates the skill, talent and culture of the Kathputli Colony, a colony of street performers in Delhi, India. The event will celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity of the colony, and showcase some of its great artists, with performances of traditional Indian arts.

These performances will be followed by an ‘in conversation’ with Ruth Daniel (CEO, Artistic Director, In Place of War) and Vijay Maitri (community leader and a theater artist), with more to be confirmed.

Presented in partnership by The University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute and Creative Manchester. This event can be attended both in-person and virtually.

Details on these, and many more events can be found here:




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