World Atlas of Poetic Traditions
Updated: May 8
We are excited to present you with the first of its kind online database for poetic traditions among languages of the world - World Atlas of Poetic Traditions or simply WAPT. The website was launched on March 5th by an inspirational high-schooler, who holds their interests in linguistics and literature. The idea behind their creation, is “to provide an accessible overview both to the general ways humans organize poetry, and to the specificities of each language's method.” I asked the author a few questions to find out more about WAPT.
- How did you come up with your creation (perhaps, you were inspired by somebody else’s work or is it simply something you always wanted to do)?
- “It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The definition of poetry here is based on the one proposed by Nigel Fabb in his monograph What is Poetry?: Language and Memory in the Poems of the World (2015): "A poem is a text made of language, divided into sections that are not determined by syntactic or prosodic structure." According to Fabb, “poetry is defined by lines [that are] short enough to fit into ‘working memory.’” These lines can be identified by various poetic devices, mainly rhyme, meter, alliteration, and parallelism, which WAPT uses to classify languages.
- How much time did you spend creating the website before you officially launched it?
- “Ten days or so. A day for each language and three days for the introductory page.”
So far WAPT describes poetry of 7 languages (Soqotri, Kpwe, Maringarr, Bugis, K'iche', Saho, Tocharian), and provides examples of 58 poems from 20 languages, yet it is aspiring to grow.
- What are the future prospects of the website?
- “I don’t like to think about the future too much, carpe diem and all that. I do have vague ideas about being a writer and/or translator (I’m trilingual, with native intuition in two) as an adult floating around in the depths of my brain, but I’m still not really sure yet.”
The database includes an interactive map and is a great tool for seeing how poetry is organized and essentially, how it works, in different languages. In its nature, WAPT reminds me of other, already familiar to us, language databases - e.g. WALS and WOLD.
- How can our readers support WAPT?
- “Please do tell me if anything is wrong! The Reddit /r/Poetry community fixed the Hebrew transliteration of Psalm 1 for me, for example (though I haven’t yet updated the site).”
In the About section you can find information on how to contact the author. I recommend you check out the website! Not only does it have a thorough description of poetic traditions of the 7 aforementioned languages, but you can also read about a general organization of poetry.
World Atlas Of Poetic Traditions. Retrieved March 24 from https://littlebleenhat.github.io/