Cities of Literature take over Thursday Nights at Hancher

Cities of Literature Panel Discussion

Hancher — Thursday, April 5 at 5 p.m.

The new Hancher Auditorium is located at 141 East Park Rd. –photo by Zak Neumann

This week, in and around a preeminent wrestling tournament and the excitement of the Mission Creek Festival, another group of worldwide visitors has descended on Iowa City: representatives from the UNESCO Cities of Literature.

A branch of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which covers seven different creative fields (Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts), the Cities of Literature are a group of 28 literary communities across 23 countries. Iowa City was the third city to earn the designation, in 2008. This year, to honor the 10th anniversary of its designation, Iowa City was chosen to host the Cities of Literature Annual Meeting.

Cities of Literature representatives from around the world arrived in town on April 3 and will be here through April 6. Although the majority of their event is private — centering on the task of welcoming the eight new cities designated last year into the fold — the gathering will offer one event to the public.

On Thursday, April 5, at 5 p.m., several of the representatives will take place in a discussion held at the regular weekly Thursday Nights at Hancher.

“This event will work a lot like our Science on Tap events,” Hancher Director of Marketing Rob Cline said in an email. “It will take place in a portion of the Stanley Café and folks who attend Thursday Night at Hancher can engage with it or not, as they prefer. Science on Tap has proven very popular, and we suspect this event will, too.”

With the slate of folks scheduled to attend, it seems unlikely that anyone would choose not to engage. The panel will include Sandy Kaur of Nottingham, England; Mylene Gauthier of Québec City, Canada; Kristin Vidarsdottir of Reykjavik, Iceland; Ali Bowden of Edinburgh, Scotland; and David Ryding of Melbourne, Australia.

“Our other guests also will be in attendance,” Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon said in an email, “so there will be the chance for members of the public to interact with them during that time as well.”

Kenyon said his colleagues on the panel will be discussing the “interesting and/or innovative” approaches they are taking to celebrating literature in their respective cities. There is no cost to attend.

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