It only makes sense that Seattle is now officially one of UNESCOâ€™s Cities of Literature, considering that itâ€™s home to the worldâ€™s biggest bookseller (Amazon) as well as Americaâ€™s most well-read citizens (at least according to Amazon).
One might even ask what took UNESCO so long: A nonprofit group calledÂ Seattle City of LiteratureÂ 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.
Donâ€™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 UNESCOâ€™sÂ Creative Cities Network.
â€œSeattle has a wonderfully rich literary history, beginning with the storytelling tradition of Native Americans in this region,â€ board president Bob RedmondÂ said today in a statement. â€œWe 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.â€
Sixty-three other cities were on todayâ€™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 â€œprovides a platform for cities to demonstrate cultureâ€™s role as an enabler for building sustainable cities.â€
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-RenÃ©e Tolbert, who was recently named Seattleâ€™s Civic Poet. To celebrate the cityâ€™s new status, hereâ€™s an excerpt from one of her poems, titled â€œThe City (3).â€
â€ â€¦ the city is restless even though she is tired and we feel her anxious hands holding us up, holding us down, holding us.â€