It only makes sense that Seattle is now officially one of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature, considering that it’s home to the world’s biggest bookseller (Amazon) as well as America’s most well-read citizens (at least according to Amazon).
One might even ask what took UNESCO so long: A nonprofit group called Seattle City of Literature has been campaigning for years to win recognition from the Paris-based U.N. cultural agency, but missed getting onto the list two years ago.
Don’t expect a City of Literature to be so impertinent as to ask. Instead, leaders of the campaign graciously welcomed word that Seattle was being added to UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.
“Seattle has a wonderfully rich literary history, beginning with the storytelling tradition of Native Americans in this region,” board president Bob Redmond said today in a statement. “We found widespread support in the community for this successful effort. We look forward to working with partners in the arts community to participate in this global network.”
Sixty-three other cities were on today’s list of additions, in areas that included crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, media arts and music as well as literature.
The only other City of Literature in the United States is Iowa City, Iowa, but there are plenty more in other countries. In addition to Seattle, UNESCO today added Bucheon in South Korea, Durban in South Africa, Lillehammer in Norway, Manchester in Britain, Milan in Italy, Quebec City in Canada and Utrecht in the Netherlands to a literature list that also includes Dublin, Edinburgh, Baghdad and more than a dozen other cities.
The tally for the Creative Cities Network now stands at 180, including nine U.S. cities.
UNESCO says the network “provides a platform for cities to demonstrate culture’s role as an enabler for building sustainable cities.”
Being a City of Literature may not put extra money in municipal coffers, but it serves as a boost for local literati such as Anastacia-Renée Tolbert, who was recently named Seattle’s Civic Poet. To celebrate the city’s new status, here’s an excerpt from one of her poems, titled “The City (3).”
” … the city is restless even though she is tired and we feel her anxious hands holding us up, holding us down, holding us.”