Reykjavík hosts first-ever hybrid UNESCO Cities of Literature meeting

Reykjavík UNESCO Creative City of Literature welcomed 31 representatives from 21 Creative Cities of Literature for the hybrid Creative Cities of Literature Annual Conference (Sept. 6-10), and the same number of delegates took part remotely from Creative Cities of Literature around the world. The theme of the Conference was Conversation and Inspiration- Reconnect in Reykjavik, focusing on the need for Cities to reconnect after a time of relative isolation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cities shared what they had learned and offered best practice for recovery and equity of opportunity in communities, and planned residencies, future collaborations, and mentoring and cooperation within the growing Network.

“The UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature have used the time during the global pandemic to explore new ways to support readers and writers in our communities, knowing the connection afforded by literature is needed more than ever in these isolating times,” said John Kenyon, Executive Director, Iowa City UNESCO Creative City of Literature and Creative Cities of Literature Network Lead. “Our annual meeting in Reykjavík allowed us to share what we have learned with one another and to discuss how we can strengthen our collaborations globally through the virtual tools that have become commonplace. To do so in a beautiful city like Reykjavík, where we had the opportunity to see in person the work being done by writers, artists, creators, programmers, and so many others, brought home how vital that work can be.”

The delegates experienced Reykjavík‘s literary and cultural landscape and met authors, translators, booksellers, and other key players on the City‘s literary scene. Reykjavík also published a collection of new essays on creativity and writing by 14 local authors, launched at the Reykjavík International Literary Festival which coincided with the Creative Cities of Literature Annual Conference.

During a visit to the Reykjavík City Library, delegates presented the Library with children’s books from their city, in keeping with a tradition that began when Iowa City hosted the Creative Cities of Literature Conference in 2018, when the team from Reykjavík City of Literature coordinated an effort to have the visiting cities bring and donate a children’s book to the library at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. This year Iowa City donated Creekfinding by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Claudia McGehee, which the children of Reykjavik soon can find in the stacks. Literacy was a key theme of the Conference, and Reykjavík’s anniversary year had in fact commenced with a book gift for all children in the City celebrating their first birthday, along with reading tips for their parents.


“Reykjavík UNESCO Creative City of Literature celebrates its ten-year anniversary in 2021. Hosting the Cities of Literature Annual Meeting made this milestone birthday very special, and organisng a hybrid meeting on this scale was highly educational,” said Kristín Ingu Viðarsdóttir, Project Manager, Reykjavík UNESCO Creative City of Literature. “It will benefit both the network and Reykjavík City generally as we further develop this new way of working together globally. As always, the Reykjavík team came out of the conference with new ideas, new connections, and further plans for cooperation and this international meeting was also highly valuable for the local literary community.”

For more information:

About the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN): Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network gathers 246 cities from over 80 UNESCO Member States that have positioned culture and creativity as strategic enablers for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the local level. The Network covers the seven creative fields of Craft and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music. Thirty-nine UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature from 28 countries are currently members of the Network and collaborate actively and closely to promote the power of literature for sustainable and inclusive societies. Iowa city was the third designated UNESCO City of Literature globally in 2008, and the first designated City of Literature in the United States.

For more information on the UCCN, please visit:

To learn more about the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature Network:


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