Support Catastrophe: our Illustrated Poem Crowdfunder

Catastrophe is an electrifying poem by the Somali poet Xasan Daahir Weedhsame. A howl of anguish about the displacement of the Somali people, it offers a provocation to western Europe, unable to hold focus on the devastating refugee crisis playing out on our shores, and a message of hope to all who have had to flee their homes to seek sanctuary across the sea.

In October the Poetry Translation Centre will publish Catastrophe as a dual-language poem-poster, including a dazzling English translation by British poet Daljit Nagra and scholar Martin Orwin. The poster will also feature a specially commissioned illustration by the artist Bryan Talbot.

We want to get this poem into the hands of as many people as possible, particularly young people. Our translation and artist costs are supported by Arts Council England, our core funder, but we need your support to get this unique project to the printer!

Our initial target is £1,500 - this will enable us to print 500 copies. Every pound raised over this target will help us to reach more schools up and down the country with reading copies and classroom resources.

Last year when images of the mass migration began to fill the UK news Weedhsame’s poem took on a new significance. Catastrophe was written about the ‘Tahriib’ or sea migration, the search for a better life in another country. This perilous journey is familiar to most Somalis living in Europe, and its impact looms large in Somali Culture. Weedhsame’s poem has resonated with Somali audiences at home and in the diaspora, cementing his reputation as one of the finest poets of his generation.

By capturing this story, laying out both the human tragedies and great national cost of this mass migration, Catastrophe offers a vital new perspective to the ongoing refugee crisis.

This poem gives a voice to the nameless people we see in news reports about mass migration.

Getting this poem out to young people and a range of communities across the UK will help reawaken awareness of the biggest mass migration of people Europe has seen since the second World War.

You can help by pre-ordering your own copy of Catastrophe for £7 that we will post out to you on the day of publication. For £15 we are also offering invitations to our launch event in London, featuring Weedhsame and Daljit Nagra.

You can order a Somali poetry package for £50, which includes Catastrophe, two PTC chapbooks, a book on Somalia’s greatest living poet Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame Hadraawi, and a new collection (hot off the press!) by UK-based poet Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf. This is a great way to discover a rich, living poetic tradition.

Become a Poem Seeder for £100: get all these other benefits, plus we will provide a UK-based class or youth group with a set of Catastrophe poem-posters and reading resources on your behalf.

We will also be offering Bryan Talbot’s original artwork and sketches for pledges between £30 and £350. Bryan Talbot has been described as the ‘David Bowie of British Comics’.

Please go to our crowdfunding page to make a donation today.