City of Literature


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Today, the Council passed Council Bill 31500, a Resolution I sponsored which endorses Seattle’s bid to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Literature.

unescoWhat is a City of Literature? Seattle author Ryan Boudinot, who is organizing Seattle’s bid for the title, thinks it’s Seattle. The City Council and Mayor agree.

We enjoy one of the highest literacy rates in the nation. We have some of the the best book stores, too. Add to that resources such as the University of Washington’s writers program, readings by authors from around the world  presented regularly atTown Hall, the Seattle Public Library, and bookstores such as 3rd Place Books, Elliott Bay Books, Open Books and others, plus the classes and readings offered at Richard Hugo House, and the question becomes “how is it Seattle isn’t already a City of Literature?”

UNESCO’s criteria are:

  • Quality, quantity and diversity of editorial initiatives and publishing houses;
  • Quality and quantity of educational programmes focusing on domestic or foreign literature in primary and secondary schools as well as universities;
  • Urban environment in which literature, drama and/or poetry play an integral role;
  • Experience in hosting literary events and festivals aiming at promoting domestic and foreign literature;
  • Libraries, bookstores and public or private cultural centres dedicated to the preservation, promotion and dissemination of domestic and foreign literature;
  • Active effort by the publishing sector to translate literary works from diverse national languages and foreign literature;
  • Active involvement of media, including new media, in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.

A UNESCO Creative City is expected to:

  • Highlight each city’s cultural assets
  • Share knowledge within the network
  • Build local capacity and train local creative participants in business skills
  • Promote diverse cultural products
  • Cultivate innovation through exchange of experience and expertise
  • Make creativity an essential element of economic and social development

Other Cities of Literature include:

Ryan will submit Seattle’s bid by March 20th. We’ll learn by the end of November whether we get it.

Update: check out the Seattle Channel video of the March 12th Town Hall event on Seattle’s City of Literature UNESCO application.

Keep in touch…

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Comment from Vicki Saunders
Time January 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Don’t forget Clarion West, a unique 6-week long writers workshop located in Seattle which trains promising writers from all over the world for careers in science fiction and fantasy, holds readings (including ones last year by instructors Neil Gaiman and George R.R.Martin), and has many award-winning graduates!

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