Welcoming a New Decade

As this decade comes to a close, we wanted to highlight some of the collaborations and contributions all the Cities of Literature have participated in during the last ten years. 

  • In the last decade, 36 new Cities of Literature were welcomed to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, now making for 39 total Cities of Literature.
  • In 2015, Reykjavik hosted a Multilingual Creative Writing Workshop for women over the course of 5 months. 
  • Melbourne hosted their first Blak&Bright festival in 2016. Blak&Bright is a Victorian Indigenous Literary Festival and has taken place yearly since its beginnings in 2016. 
  • In 2016, Heidelberg and Granada co-wrote the “Osip Mandelstam: Word and Destiny” to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of poet Osip Mandelstam.In 2016, Reykjavík, Kraków, Tartu and Heidelberg participate in “Drop the Mic” a project that aimed to blend and engage the worlds in songwriting and poetry.
  • In 2016, Reykjavik displayed images and words from 18 other Cities of Literature in their town hall. 
  • In 2016, Heidelberg and Prague participated in “Exhibition Poetry” a four day translation workshop in which poets from both cities collaborate to exchange knowledge and deepen their cultural understandings of each other. 
  • In 2017, Reykjavik and Melbourne participated in “Sleipnir’s Literary Travels,” an interactive online children’s project where Sleipnir, an imaginary horse from Norse mythology, travels the world freely. Children were invited to create postcards and submit their own fictional short stories.
  •   In 2017, Krakow leads ReadPL, a project to combine literature and new technology. This project allowed free rental of e-books throughout the globe. In 2017, 11 other Creative Cities participated including Barcelona, Dublin, Dunedin, Dundee, Edinburgh, Lviv, Norwich, Nottingham, Prague, Reykjavik, and Ulyanovsk. 
  • In 2018, Granada initiated the first World Poetry Day collaboration between other Cities of Literature. Participating Cities were Granada, Baghdad, Barcelona, Krakow, Dublin, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, Iowa City, Ljubljiana, Nottingham, Obidos, Prague, Reykjavik, and Tartu.
  • In 2018, Durban led a Global Forum 4Literacy and The Traveling Books Project. By exchanging books from different countries, Durban used this initiative to promote improved childhood literacy in their community. 
  • In 2018, Milan, and 8 other Creative Cities in Italy began measuring the impacts of creativity in local development, and how increased creativity can support growth in tourism, and economic stability. 
  • In 2018, Edinburgh and Melbourne participated in a literary programmers exchange program. Seven delegated from Melbourne visited Scotland for ten days with a festival focused itinerary. Delegates from Edinburgh will be selected in 2020.
  •   In 2018 Bucheon opened B39, a borderless art space built from an old garbage incinerator plant. The space is now a multidisciplinary art space, and hosts exhibitions, performances, and educational events.
  • In summer 2019, Melbourne led a global slam poetry competition titled 
    Poets from Edinburgh, 
    Iowa City, Heidelberg, Melbourne, Nottingham, Quebec City, Tartu, and Utrecht competed by sending in short videos as examples of their work and the grand winner was decided at the Melbourne Writers Festival.
  • In 2019, Edinburgh’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival created the world’s first Global Storytelling Lab. The Lab works towards the SDGs by exploring how the power of story worldwide can help address the Climate Emergency. 
  • In December 2019, during COP25 Madrid, Iowa City led a #17booksfor17SDGs campaign. For 17 days 11 participating Cities of Literature recommended a book daily that corresponded with one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Not to mention hundreds of book festivals, residencies, public readings and much more! Other collaborations and achievements from the Creative Cities Network can be found here

In the last decade our own City of Literature has accomplished a lot as well, here are just a few of the highlights! 

  • In 2010, we launched our Writers on the Fly video series. Each video is a short interview with authors who have visited Iowa City. As of now there are over 95 interviews on our website. http://writersonthefly.org/
  • In 2010 Tricia park and Judith Hurtig founded MusicIC, a chamber music festival inspired by literature. http://www.musicic.org/
  •  In 2011, the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature awarded the inaugural Paul Engle Prize to author James Alan McPherson.
  • In 2012, saw the release of the documentary “City of Literature,” exploring Iowa City’s rich literary history. http://cityofliteraturefilm.org/watch/
  • In 2013, we hosted our first ever One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival. http://onebooktwobook.org/
  • In 2013, introduced the Paul Engle Glory of the Senses High School essay contest. http://www.iowacityofliterature.org/Paul-Engle-essay-contest/
  •  We hosted ten years of amazing Iowa City Book Festivals. 
  • In 2018, our 10th anniversary, we hosted the annual international UNESCO City of Literature conference right here in Iowa City, and welcomed representatives from 23 other Cities of Literature.
  • There have been nearly 100 Little Free Libraries installed in the Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty area within the last ten years.


Wow what a decade it has been! As we ring in the new year we look forward to many more collaborations with other members of the Creative Cities network as well as with the people in our community right here in Iowa City. Happy New Year!

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