Adults can celebrate IMLD 2023 with us too!

17 January 2023 - News
There are a lot of the events for International Mother Language Day aimed at family audiences, we know how important it is to celebrate languages with young people, but we want to make it clear that there are plenty of events and ways to be involved in Manchester’s International Mother Language Day celebrations for adults without children.  

Here is a day-by-day list of all the activities adults can enjoy themselves (though a digital brochure of the full event schedule is available to download below).


International Mother Language Day: Exhibitions

1st February – 31st March
Manchester Central Library (Manchester Histories Hub, Lower Ground Floor)
St Peter’s Square, M2 5PD
Available during the Library’s opening hours
No booking required

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 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. 


International Mother Language Day: EVENTS


Manchester In Translation: Comma Press

Monday 20th – Wednesday 22nd February
11am – 7pm

Manchester’s Comma Press present a series of free, online workshops and panels offering advice and insight into literary translation as a professional practice. Over three days, emerging translators – or those with a passion for working between languages – will be invited to engage in current debates and topics surrounding literary translation, as well as take part in eye-opening translation workshops.  

Join Comma for morning talks and panels, streamed live on the Comma Press YouTube Channel at 11.00am. Each afternoon Comma will host workshops in specifically-chosen community languages. The workshops will be delivered online via Zoom and are limited to 15 spaces. All events are entirely free, but you have to sign up.

Keynote Speech Tiffany Tsao  

Monday 20th February, 11:00am
Watch Live via the Comma Press YouTube 

Writer and translator Tiffany Tsao will deliver the opening keynote. Tsao has translated five books from Indonesian to English. Her translation of Erikson Pasaribu’s Happy Stories, Mostly won the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize and was longlisted for the International Booker Prize.  

This keynote will be streamed live to the Comma Press YouTube channel. You will be able to follow a link to the YouTube event from this event’s Eventbrite page, or from the Comma Press website, social media pages (@commapress).

Panel: Queering Translation 

Tuesday 21st February, 11:00am
Watch Live via the Comma Press YouTube 

A panel discussion looking beyond issues of representation to ask what strategies might inform a translator’s practice with regard to both contemporary and historic queer literature and the ethical implications of doing so. 

This panel will be streamed live to the Comma Press YouTube channel. You will be able to follow a link to the YouTube event from this event’s Eventbrite page, or from the Comma Press website, social media pages (@commapress). 

Panel: Keeping Underrepresented Literatures Alive through Translation 

Wednesday 22nd February, 11:00am
Watch Live via the Comma Press YouTube 

Translators from languages underrepresented in English translation will discuss what role translators, editors, publishers and authors plays in keeping the literature of those languages alive.  

This panel will be streamed live to the Comma Press YouTube channel. You will be able to follow a link to the YouTube event from this event’s Eventbrite page, or from the Comma Press website, social media pages (@commapress).

Translation Workshops with Comma Press 

Comma will also be hosting four 2.5-hour-long translation workshops each afternoon of the conference designed to give people a taste of the translation process. This year’s workshops will cover translating Italian, Hindi, Soranî and Kurmanjî into English. 

Groups will work on collaborative translations of texts across different genres, guided by experienced translators. This is a great opportunity to take your translating to the next level, hone your creative writing skills and meet like-minded people. 

All workshops translate into English, therefore all participants must have proficiency in the source language (reading proficiency not just spoken) and have a high proficiency in English. Groups will be limited to 15 people to allow for individual attention, and applicants will be asked to answer a few quick questions when booking to determine their suitability for the workshop. This information won’t be shared with anyone but the workshop facilitator. 


Monday 20th February 2-4.30pm – Italian to English Translation with Ruth Clarke –
Tuesday 21st February 2-4.30pm – Hindi to English Translation with Mohini Gupta – 
Wednesday 22nd February 2-4.30pm – Soranî to English and Kurmanjî to English Translation


Tuesday 21st February

The Multilingual Museum
Manchester Museum
Oxford Road, M13 9PL
Drop in 10am – 4pm
No booking required 

Come and experience the pioneering Multilingual Museum, celebrating the language diversity of Manchester. Whether you speak a language fluently, are learning one, or just want to know more about languages, come along! You could try to translate with them, speak in your own language about the objects, learn more about the languages found around Manchester, or hear from their Multilingual Museum volunteers about the work they’ve done to make this project possible. Your contribution could go on their website too! 


Creative Manchester / University of Manchester: COMICS UP CLOSE – New Perspectives in Comics 2023
Manchester Museum (Kanaris Theatre)
Oxford Road, M13 9PL
11am – 5pm (registration from 10am)
£25 including lunch and refreshments

Why Comics? What Can They Do? The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in partnership with Creative Manchester and Sheffield Hallam University invite you to join a day packed with new and exciting perspectives on comics. Bringing together leading academics, world renowned comic creators and comic advocates from across the globe, the day will present new research and thinking on comics. 

Contributors will include: 

Dave McKean, one of the UK’s leading illustrators, photographers, comic book artists and filmmakers, reflecting on new technological advances, especially Artificial Intelligence, and how these are redefining what it is to create, to draw and consume comics. 

Benoit Peeters, previously the UK’s first professor of comics at Lancaster University, currently professor at the Collège de France in Paris and also a writer, thinker and the creator of The Obscure Cities comic series with the Belgian artist François Schuiten, exploring what makes comics special and particular in the world of arts and culture. 

Also featured will be presentations on comics and social change across Europe, comics and racial identities in Latin America and a survey of comics and social change in the UK over two centuries, plus much more. 


MCR City of Languages: Protecting Multilingualism panel

“Why and how should we protect multilingualism? A linguistic citizenship perspective”  

The online event will bring together an international panel of activists for indigenous language rights and city and nation-wide multilingualism to discuss issues of linguistic citizenship and links between language and equality and decoloniality. Its purpose will be to inspire local activists by linking to an international perspective. Speakers include Francesca La Morgia, Mother Tongues Ireland; Daniel Kaufman, Endangered Language Alliance New York; Kamal Kelzi language activist and Anjum Malik, writer, lecturer and Multilingual City Poet.   


Muslim Writers: International Mother Language Day Mushaira
Pakistani Community Centre
481 Stockport Rd, M12 4NN
6.30 – 9pm
Book via: 

A special Urdu poetry recital – all welcome. 


Thursday 23rd February

Manchester Poetry Library: International Mother Language Day at the Manchester Poetry Library
Manchester Poetry Library
Oxford Road, M15 6BG
Throughout the day (10am – 7pm)
FREE (refreshments provided)
No booking required 

Drop in anytime during the day to view special displays of books from their co-curated language programme, including Farsi poetry recommended by the audience at last year’s event and a special Bengali poetry display that considers the roots of International Mother Language Day. 

From 6-7pm, Manchester Poetry Library will be hosting their very first Multilingual Open Mic poetry session.  Places at this event are limited, so register to attend. Audience members can opt to read in any language, simply let us know what language you wish to read in when you register.  The poems can be your own or written by someone else.  Places to read will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.


Instituto Cervantes: Language Acquisition in Multilingual contexts

Adquirir una Segunda Lengua: ¿Por qué nos parece tan difícil? | Acquiring a Second Language: Why do we find it so difficult? 

Lecture given by Diego Pascual y Cabo (University of Florida) 

Instituto Cervantes Manchester and Leeds presents a new lecture series: “Acquiring a Second Language: Why do we find it so difficult?”, coordinated by Idoia Elola (Texas Tech University) y Ana Oskoz (University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a forum aimed at teachers, language students, parents and the general public, which will consider how we learn a second, or a heritage language. Presenters will discuss various elements and difficulties that come with second-language acquisition including: myths and realities surrounding language acquisition and age, the effect of explicit knowledge and how it can affect learning, the use of language according to the context in which it is spoken, and the effect of education on our ability to learn a second language. The first lecture “Critical Language Awareness and the Second-language Classroom” will celebrate International Mother Language Day and will be given by Diego Pascual y Cabo (University of Florida). 

Language: English (simultaneous interpreted into Spanish) 


Thursday 2nd March 

Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University: Mother Tongue Other Tongue Launch (For people who work in schools)
4 – 6pm

Mother Tongue Other Tongue 2023 will be launched online during IMLD 2023.  This is a free to enter competition, open to young people aged 8-18 wishing to celebrate their mother language or to be creative in a language they are learning. This event is for schools and other groups wishing to join the project to find out about the competition and available resources.
Sign up for an online, information and resource-sharing event  

For further detail about Mother Tongue Other Tongue and other MCR Poetry Library initiatives, see 

Friday 17th March

MACFest 2023: Celebrating Poetry and International Mother Language Day
6 – 7.30pm

Join us for an exciting event with young people from the UK, on a literary and poetic journey, as we also celebrate International Mother Language Day!  

Young poets will recite or perform their poetry in English or their mother tongue. They will be Introduced by their teachers or headteachers. 

  • Musfira Raza, Year 11 and Ayesha Nadeem, Year 10, Levenshulme high school 
  • Zaynab Behzad from Altrincham Grammar School for Girls 
  • Hafsah Khan from Loreto College 
  • Withington Grammar School for Girls 

Hosted by: Miss Donna Johnson and Mr. Neil A. Johnson, Co-Headteachers of Levenshulme High School, Manchester. Chief Guest: Yaron Matras is a linguist at the University of Manchester specializing in Romani and other languages, including Middle Eastern languages. 


We have created a page showing the public transport options for reaching each IMLD event venue and a page with a day’s itinerary for adults on the busy Tuesday to help you turn IMLD into a day out.