Icelanders have written stories and poetry ever since they first laid hands on feather-pens and calfskin. Today, Reykjavík is the centre of culture in the country and the city plays a vital role in sustaining and carrying on this priceless literary heritage. Snorri Rafn Hallsson and Már Másson Maack. H2 Creative Summer Group, 2010
The Nordic House in Reykjavík is one of the city's main cultural centres. It hosts numerous literary events – international, Nordic, and Icelandic, and runs a public library that focuses on literature by writers from the Nordic countries in the original languages. The Nordic House intends to extend its commitment to literature even further and make it the core of the institution's operations. In line with this, it hosted lunch hour programs with writers in the winter of 2009–2010, which turned out to be a success. The Nordic House is a venue for both The Reykjavík International Literature Festival and The International Children's Literature Festival and Nýhil's International Poetry Festival has been held there in the past two years. The Nordic Translation Fund was recently placed under The Nordic House in Reykjavík and furthermore, it hopes to secure the administration of The Nordic Literary Prize in the near future. Iceland is one of the Nordic countries, which have a long-standing tradition of extensive cooperation in various fields, frequently under the supervision of The Nordic Council of Ministers, that contributes significant funding to cultural projects and events, as do several other Nordic cultural funds. The City of Reykjavík and The Nordic House collaborate on a number of projects every year, both literary ones and other cultural programs and events. Conferences and Symposia Reykjavík hosts several conferences and symposia each year, both international and local. There will be no attempt made to give an extensive overview of this field but instead here are a few recent and interesting examples. The Gerdu berg Culture Centre, which is run by The City of Reykjavík, is located in one of the city's suburbs and hosts all sorts of exhibitions and events. One of the Centre's regular events, dating back to 1999, is the Writers' Symposium, each of which focuses on a selected writer and his/her career. The symposium explores the writer's work in detail, three interviewers ask the writer about his/her life and work in an informal chat, and actors read excerpts. These symposia are extremely well attended, and the resulting
Writer Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir puts herself in the shoes of one of her characters, painter Karítas from her two-volume novel from 2004 and 2007. Photograph: Kristín Hauksdóttir
material is published in a book in order to reach more readers and to create permanent documentation of the event. The National Broadcasting Service has also documented many of these programs. The last symposium was dedicated to the writer Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir; alongside it was an art exhibition in honour of the fictional artist Karítas, the protagonist in a two-volume novel by Kristín. The related two-week seminar for the public on this renowned novel was fully booked. Gerduberg Culture Centre also plays host to numerous other literature happenings and events, often in cooperation with the Reykjavík City Library branch, which is housed in the same building.
Reykjavík City Library is currently collaborating with six other libraries in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway on a three-year project for developing new ideas and an intricate vision for the future for public libraries in these countries.
Reykjavík – a City of Literature
Published on Jul 23, 2012