IMLD 2023 – Manchester City of Literature IMLD Exhibition

  • DATE

    1 February - 31 March 2023

  • TIME

    9:00 am to 5:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome


    Free (no booking required)


    Manchester Central Library
    St Peter's Square, Manchester, M2 5PD

Throughout the whole of February and March, Manchester City of Literature will have an exhibition available to celebrate International Mother Language Day, showcasing our international connection to the other UNESCO Cities of Literature and celebrating Manchester’s work at home.

The exhibition is FREE and is situated in the Manchester Histories Hub on the Lower Ground Floor of Manchester Central Library. Drop in any time during February and March to see these amazing exhibits.

Al-Usra wal-Sufra: Family and Feasts 

We have an exciting exhibition from Ali Al-Jamri, Manchester Multilingual City Poet, who worked with artist Rosie Stanley to create a dollhouse to inspire writing for last summer’s Liverpool Arab Arts Festival. The dollhouse was to provide inspiration for young people from two Arabic Saturday 

schools to read poetry and write their own in Arabic and English. The poems you will see in the dollhouse at the exhibition are all written by children at the Liverpool Arabic Centre and Manchester Arabic School. 

Children might struggle to understand and reproduce the formal Arabic of the classroom, but every child knows how to ask their parents, “When is dinner ready?” With the family dinner as the starting point, the name emerged easily: Al-Usra wal-Sufra, Family and Feasts. 

The young people were encouraged to write in both languages, whichever came naturally. The results were surprising: teachers said they had seen a creativity they had not known was within their pupils. 

To bring everything together, Ali brought in the dollhouse. Just as we have remade our redbrick homes in England’s Northwest to remind us of our origins, this dollhouse has been turned from a traditional English layout to a British Arab one, complete with a majlis to host big meals for the entire family. 

Have a read of the young people’s poetry – and why not add to our display by writing your own and sending it to us via #MCRIMLD23. 

Produced by Ali Al-Jamri, Manchester Multilingual City Poet
Dollhouse design by artist Rosie Stanley
In partnership with Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and Manchester City of Literature 

La Ville d’après: Visions artistiques de notre futur urbain 

In 2020, the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the world’s population stimulated discussion about how cities would function post-COVID-19. Angoulême in France, a sister UNESCO City of Literature with a rich history of celebrating comic books and graphic novels, launched a competition to find those visions, hopes and fears of a post-COVID world from other UNESCO cities. 

For International Mother Language Day, we have collated ten entries from our sister UNESCO Cities of Literature for you here, along with a brief insight from the artists about their work. 

Multilingual Film Exhibition

On the screen in The Manchester Histories Hub, where our exhibitions will be displayed, we will have a playlist of films from Manchester and other sister UNESCO Cities of Literature. 

From Manchester we will have the ‘Made in Manchester’ poem based on Zahid Hussain’s poem, comprising of 65 languages, and different translations of Manchester Multilingual Poets, Anjum Malik’s ‘This Here’ and Ali Al-Jamri’s ‘In Prisms of Knowledge’. 

Outside of Manchester, we will be playing films from Nottingham, Tartu and Reykjavik, all UNESCO Cities of Literature. 

Library shelves 

On our Manchester City of Literature stacks in Manchester Central Library (just around the corner from the Manchester Histories Hub where our exhibitions are), we have worked with 

the Library team to fill these will books for International Mother Language Day. These multingual books will interest a range of ages including new books linkedto the events you’ll see throughout this booklet. 


Words from the Childhood Home: A Chain Poem for International Mother Language Day 2023

From Monday 20th February

‘Words From the Childhood Home’ is a brand new, exciting, multilingual chain poem written by nominated poets representing UNESCO Cities of Literature to celebrate International Mother Language Day 2023. 

Manchester City of Literature invited our fellow UNESCO Cities of Literature to nominate a poet to respond to Anjum Malik, a Manchester Multilingual City Poet who writes in Urdu and English. 

Anjum started the chain poem with a four-line stanza on the theme of ‘Childhood Home’, reflecting on the power of family (and all the forms that this takes), native languages and memory. Each participating poet was tasked with producing a four-line stanza (in their mother tongue and with a translation into English) in response to the words of the poet that responded before them. Together, members of the Cities of Literature network (Dunedin, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, Lviv, Melbourne, Montevideo, Nottingham and Tartu ) have produced a stunning poem which captures the rich nuances of international poets’ lived childhoods.  


Thank you to Manchester Histories for their work and cooperation in helping us organise this exhibition in their space within Manchester Central Library. 


We have created a page showing the public transport options for reaching each IMLD event venue and a page with various itineraries to help you turn IMLD into a day out.