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Making The Song Atlas by John Gallas

Making The Song Atlas by John Gallas

December 1999 with O my Dear Animals (Italy).

March 2002 with Night 1 & Night 9 (Comoros).

In between
my poetry brain set down in every country in the world and tried to give back what is 'lost in translation'.


with thoughts, feelings and wisdom provided, my job was always that of a craftsman working from another's pattern. A way of writing that became addictively attractive.

My job
always to make another poem - to 're-poem'.

hundreds of helpers translated each poem, word by word and line by line, and I worked from these annotated, plain translations.

Why the world
the 'flags of all nations' approach - as well as being childishly satisfying - gave order and an end to what could have become a Habit.

How many

no poem seeks to represent its country in any way. It is just a moment of its existence. Random and rooted.

from students, embassy staff, national library staffs, excited individuals, internet junkies, poets themselves, their relatives, my relatives, my workmates and friends to colleges, universities, travellers, expatriates of all kinds, newspapers, reporters and Eminent Authorities. Including The Mongolian Society of Indiana, Staff of the Afghan Embassy in Canberra, The Markfield Islamic Institute (discovered 4 miles down the road from Coalville, where I live), Favorita '68. The Friends of Niger, Brother Anthony and the National Libraries of Andorra and Estonia.

every poem is my favourite. The making of each one has a good story to it. I used more reference books than my desk could hold. My Mac got hot. I managed only old english (England) and old norse (Norway) on my own. The lucky bilingual citizens of the world did the rest.

What are they about
everything. Satire (Kenya), mourning (Azerbaijan, Georgia), proverbs (Central African Republic, Niger), despair (Sweden), stoical wisdom (Ivory Coast), political anger (Angola, Peru, Mauritania), war (Austria, Lithuania), love (Egypt, Zimbabwe), surrealism (Venezuela, Ecuador), tales (Tonga, Marshall Islands), work (Macedonia), nature both friendly (Fiji, Slovakia) and unfriendly (Bolivia, Costa Rica), My Nation (Mongolia), memories (Netherlands, Denmark), comedy (Maldives), space travel (Latvia), philosophy (Cambodia, China, Estonia), myths (New Zealand), partying (Iraq) and more and more and more.

1500 BC (Egypt) to now (Democratic Republic of the Congo).

photo taken by Sarah Curtis when we were in Mongolia, at a mini-Nadaam (festival of wrestling, archery and horse-racing) in the Gobi Desert.

What next
100 sonnets - each one illustrating an Old Persian Proverb.

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