The Reykjavík International Literature Festival has been a biennial event since 1985. In addition, Reykjavík has presented a biennial international children's literature festival since 2001, a yearly international poetry festival, and the annual Reykjavík Arts Festival. These festivals are an important factor in promoting Icelandic and international literature to the people and visitors of Reykjavík, in addition to establishing ties between Icelandic and international writers, translators and publishers. Translation of foreign works has always been an integral part of Icelandic literary life, and works by Icelandic writers are published with increased frequency abroad. In October 2011, Iceland will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and has launched the most extensive promotional campaign for Icelandic literature to date. Immense work has gone into this project, both in Iceland and in Germany, and that groundwork will benefit Reykjavík as a UNESCO City of Literature, should it be awarded the status. Literary culture in the city is vibrant and diverse. It spans energetic literary activities with children and youths, which can for instance be seen in various literature-related work in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and libraries, to events for all ages such as the Week of the Book, several readings and recitals in cafés and other venues and popular literary walks, just to name a few. Even though there are many tried and tested events on offer, constant renewal and new happenings pop up all the time, such as the very successful Poetry Slam hosted by Reykja vík City Library, where young people fuse poetry with music, dance, and other arts, the H2 Creative Summer Groups run by Reykjavík City, and popular lunch-time lectures hosted by the new Writing Department at the University of Iceland, where writers discuss their works and the creative process. Digital media and preservation grows ever more prominent within literature, as in other areas, and the city's public and academic libraries are at the forefront of this development, along with institutes such as The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Reykjavík's main ambition behind becoming a UNESCO City of Literature is to further support the city's literary culture, not least by coordinating the efforts of those who
operate within the sector – everyone from writers to all the different parties that promote literature to the public. In order to successfully coordinate these efforts in an effective and powerful way, Reykjavík City will establish a Centre for Literature in Reykjavík together with its key partners in the field. Reykjavík wants to celebrate its literary heritage by promoting literature and public literary discourse in a diverse manner, creating new projects to increase reading among all age groups and making literature a visible feature in the city landscape. The City of Reykjavík places great importance on inter national collaboration, and associations that work within the literary sector in the city are all a part of an international network and partake in international collaborations in the area of writing and book culture. The City has already established a relationship with Edinburgh, the first UNESCO City of Literature, and closely follows developments in the ambitious work underway there. One of the two point persons for this bid attended the Cities of Literature Conference in Edinburgh in 2008, and Reykjavík intends to partake in the Creative Cities Network conferences in the future. The City of Reykjavík looks forward to working with other Creative Cities on a variety of projects in the fields of literature and culture, as the city already has a lot to offer and believes that dialogue across countries and cultures is vital to cultivating a vibrant and progressive cultural life. Reykjavík's main strengths with regard to becoming a part of the Cities of Literature Network are a strong literary tradition and continuity in a small linguistic community, with a robust book culture and general public participation in contemporary cultural life. Reykjavík can pass on this knowledge and experience to other cities. The bid has the full support of both Reykjavík City and the Icelandic State, is backed by the Mayor of Reykjavík, and Reykjavík's Department of Culture and Tourism handles all preparation work in collaboration with The Icelandic Literature Fund and other institutions and organizations in the field. The Icelandic National Commission for UNESCO has been following the bid with interest and is willing to submit a letter of support at any time.
Iceland will be the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and has launched the most extensive promotional campaign for Icelandic literature to date
Published on Jul 23, 2012