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Seattle joins Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature


Photo courtesy of the Iowa City Book Festival

Iowa City is no longer the only UNESCO City of Literature in the United States. On Oct. 31, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designated Seattle a City of Literature. Seattle was one of 64 cities added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which recognizes distinction in seven fields: crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts and music.

“We welcome the new cities to our network, and look forward to learning from and collaborating with these partners,” John Kenyon, executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, said in a press release.

The nonprofit Seattle City of Literature organization first put in a bid for UNESCO recognition in 2013. Worldwide, a total of 64 cities were added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. In the United States, Kansas City, Missouri, was recognized as a City of Music, and San Antonio, Texas, became a City of Gastronomy.

Last month, the Trump Administration withdrew the United States from UNESCO, but that hasn’t had an impact on the UNESCO network, because cities deal directly with the agency and the federal government isn’t involved.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was launched in 2004. Iowa City was named a City of Literature in 2008. There are now 28 UNESCO Cities of Literature worldwide. In April, Iowa City will host the annual UNESCO conference for those cities of literature.


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