A new programme sharing expertise in poetry translation between Manchester and Slemani in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq has received funding from the British Council Working Internationally fund. Both cities are UNESCO Cities of Literature, designated in 2017 and 2019 respectively, and this one year project will be the start of wider cooperation between the two cities.

A joint team of translators from Slemani and Manchester will be assembled to work on translating poetry from Kurdish into English and vice versa. Each city will select ten poets to represent the range of styles and diverse voices in their contemporary and historic poetry scenes. Kurdish-English is a relatively new field of literary translation so the learning would be rich for both cities, and the two UNESCO Creative Cities are committed to sharing this learning widely. All poems would be ready for sharing on International Translation Day (30 September) in both languages as an e-anthology and as part of an online conference.

The two Cities of Literature have not worked together before. This project will strengthen the bonds between them and will lead to future collaboration between writers, agencies and communities in each country, highlighting the power of words in bringing people together.