UNESCO City of Literature

Ooh la la, there’s a new UNESCO City of Literature in the world, which is only the second one in the world, and it is the first in the Southern Hemisphere!

This particular award is one of six thematic awards which make up UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network designations. Edinburgh was the first city to receive recognition in 2004 as a UNESCO City of Literature, and now we have Melbourne to add to the list (okay, so it’s not a very long list so far!).

Am not sure that we’ll see Christchurch make the list any time soon, but there are definitely lots of ‘literary’ happenings here, as witnessed by The Press Christchurch Writers Festival 2008 and Te Tai Tamariki, as well as local authors such as Gavin Bishop, Stevan Eldred-Grigg, Fiona Farrell, Bill Nagelkerke and Carl Nixon. And there’s plenty of books which evoke Christchurch as their primary setting, such as 24 hours by Margaret Mahy, Davey darling by Paul Shannon, The cleaner by Paul Cleave, Shiftlight by David Jubermann, Room by Laurence Fearnley and The Opawa affair by Edmund Bohan.

Sadly though, we don’t have the wealth of organisations that Melbourne has which support the fantastic literary side of the city. One such place is The State Library of Victoria, which is creating a Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, scheduled for a 2009 opening. It should eventually house a variety of literature bodies, such as the Australian Poetry Centre and the Victorian Writers’ Centre. I can certainly see why Melbourne deserves to be the second UNESCO City of Literature.