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News & Events

Endangered Alphabets Project founder serves as Distinguished Lecturer

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to announce the next speaker in its 2014-2015 Distinguished Lecturer Series—Tim Brookes, the founder of the Endangered Alphabets Project and award-winning author of 14 books. Brookes, who will speak on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m., in the Auditorium at Wieden Hall, will discuss how he has incorporated his artistic skills as a writer, painter, and wood carver into “saving” alphabets on the verge of extinction by carving them into wood. Some of Brookes’ Endangered Alphabets artwork, which has been displayed across the country and around the world, will be on display during his talk. This talk is free and the public is invited to be a part of this special evening.

Born in England, Brookes received his education at Oxford and now lives in Burlington, Vermont. He is the award-winning author of 14 books includingEndangered Alphabets, and a 20-year commentator for National Public Radio. Brookes is also a humorist, a professional guitarist, and a soccer coach. He draws on this remarkable breadth of reference to be what several college faculty and administrators have described as “the most interesting speaker we have ever hosted.”

There are fewer than 100 alphabets in the world, and more than a third of them are on the verge of extinction. When these alphabets die, an entire culture loses its ability to read its own history, literature, folklore, and medicine. In an attempt to save these alphabets, Brookes created the Endangered Alphabet Project. Carved into exotic woods, his project raises a countless number of questions about language, progress, globalization, and the importance of indigenous cultures.

Brookes has visited libraries, galleries, and campuses all over Europe and the United States showing and discussing the Alphabet carvings and running as many as five talks and workshops in a day. Faculty members from Yale University invited Brookes to use his Alphabets in a course on the history of writing entitled, “From Pictograph to Pixl.” Several schools, including Western Wyoming College, have asked Brookes to visit creative writing classes and talk about the Alphabets project and how it has led him to explore new and creative forms of non-fiction writing. Brookes will deliver two workshops to UMPI students during his visit.

Brookes has received praise for his work and his lectures. Will Shortz, crossword editor for the New York Times, said, “Tim Brookes is a personable, engaging, fascinating speaker. He wowed the crowd at the 2012 Wonderful World of Words.”

The University’s Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors four to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

All are invited to attend Tim Brookes’ distinguished lecture. For more information about the event, contact UMPI’s Community and Media Relations Office at 207-768-9452 or email info@maine.edu. For more information about Tim Brookes and his Endangered Alphabets Project, visit his website at http://timbrookesinc.com/endangeredalphabets/.