The wonderful German site Lyrikline showcases poets reading their own poetry in many languages: currently Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Belarusian, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi (Persian), Finnish, French, Gaelic/Scottish Gaelic, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Rhaeto-romanic, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish (Castilian), Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Wayuunaiki, and Welsh. I’m afraid the translations offered are mostly in German and French, which won’t help many Anglophones, but even if you don’t understand the words, it’s great to hear the varied voices of the poets. (Via MetaFilter.)


  1. “I’m afraid the translations offered are mostly in German and French…”
    This is a language blog. Surely most of your readers understand at least one of those two. 🙂

  2. I once heard a poetry recital by some Russian poets. I couldn’t understand a word of course, but was completely intoxicated by the diction, it seemed sombre and ineffable, like a reading of the Torah. It was only when translations were offered that I realised how bad the poetry was. Here’s to incomprehension!

  3. Patrick Hall says

    Conrad, you can always hold out hope that it was simply the translations that were bad. ☺
    What a fantastic site, and beautiful design.
    My only complaint is that the files aren’t mp3s or something, so I could stick them on my ipod and wander about listening to languages I don’t know.
    (A favorite pastime.)

  4. This is a fantastic site.
    What I’ve been doing, Patrick, is playing the poems while simulataneously recording them with the program “Total Recorder” (downloaded it a while back for about $12, I think) — this makes them into mp3s.
    Having Total Recorder on your computer interferes with the proper functioning of Quicktime, though, I discovered.

  5. This site ist great, thanks for posting the link.
    BTW, it apparently received a Grimme online award in 2005, a prestigious journalistic award for sites in German.

  6. michael farris says

    Very cool site though I’m surprised at some of the languages included and not (probably just the way things worked out).
    The search to figure out what Waayunaiki was (spoiler: the language formerly known as Guajiro with 400,000(!) speakers still?)
    led me to: a remarkable site with (free) downloads (contributions suggested/requested) of religious oral materials in literally thousands of languages from around the world.
    All the materials I listened to sounded like they are performed by native speakers so presumably are mostly free or missionary induced distortions.

  7. The search to figure out what Waayunaiki was
    I take it you didn’t click on my link; that would have been cheating!

  8. michael farris says

    Exactly! Why do things the easy way?
    Actually I wasn’t very clear (quelle suprise) I did clink on the link and was so surprised at the number of speakers claimed (more than ten times what I would have guessed) that I went to google more info which led me to the other site (which I had come across a long time ago before they had a lot of the recordings online).
    I was also going to try to google info about the orthography but didn’t get around to that yet.

  9. The Russian section only has four poets, but I recognized all the four names at once. Aygi is a name familiar to your readers, Golynko-Volfson and Kononov are sort of fashionable contemporary authors, and Stratanovsky is one of my favorite living poets.

  10. Wow, that’s quite a recommendation — I’ll investigate him. Thanks!

  11. LH — I would suggest browsing Stratanovsky’s (and the three other poets’) work at It’s a great source for modern Russian poetry.

  12. “This is a language blog. Surely most of your readers understand at least one of those two. :)”
    Surely there are many linguists who work in areas other than fading ethnic languages of Europe.

  13. Not to mention that my intended audience is anyone who’s interested in language, even if their only language is English. But I think Paul D was making a little joke.

  14. If you click on the “by translation” button at Lyrikline you’ll see that there are translations available in over twenty languages, including a German poem into Welsh and a Lithuanian poet into Turkish. There are no English translations for the Russian poets, but many English translations of the German, Italian and Dutch poets. There are also Indonesian, Chinese, Persian and Kurdish translations for those tiring of the “fading ethnic languages of Europe.” Really a brilliant site. It’s a shame there’s not corresponding audio for the translators reading their translations – it would be fun to compare and contrast.

  15. “It’s a shame there’s not corresponding audio for the translators reading their translations – it would be fun to compare and contrast.”
    Indeed. I’ve thought about recording myself reading original poems (not mine) with my own translations and putting the stuff online but I’m not sure that would be in good taste.

  16. I love these types of pages, and saved this one for later despite being mostly monolingual*.
    I read audio once for a friend’s small press.
    I have lost touch and don’t know if she plans to continue work on recording In Voice, but the rest of the site looks active.
    (* but I love langauge and poetry translation. In school I was able to sign up for a class about the translation of Chinese poetry since it was taught in English. happy days.)

  17. Not only is the site still going strong, but they seem to have more translations into English, e.g. Gennady Aygi’s Эпилог: Колыбельная-Сувалкия, with translations into both German (Suvalki-Wiegenlied) and English (Epilogue: Lullaby-Suwalkie). (We discussed Aygi in 2006.)

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