The City Council just unanimously endorsed Seattle's bid to become a UNESCO City of Literature. Councilmember Nick Licata introduced the resolution and explained the importance of the UNESCO program, which helps "recognize cities that are leaders in a number of creative areas." Licata praised local author Ryan Boudinot for accumulating a long list of sponsors for Seattle's bid, including the American Bookseller's Association, the
National American Library Association, the Academy of American Poets, and Nancy Pearl. Licata explained that all those organizations want Seattle to become a City of Literature "so that we can join other cities from around the world to promote literature as a way of encouraging cultural diversity around the world, as well as convincing people when they visit Seattle to seek out culture." Licata concluded by saying that "Seattle has been a national and world leader" in the field of literature.
In public comment before the resolution's passage, Boudinot reaffirmed his support for the bid. "I happen to believe that a renaissance can be engineered," Boudinot began, citing the City of Literature program as a way "for Seattle’s readers and writers to engage more deeply in the world’s literary traditions," and "for our city to contribute to a community of creative cities around the globe." Boudinot continued:
A writer born in the Pacific Northwest should find in Seattle everything she needs to nurture a life in letters. She should have abundant opportunities to discover the world’s great literary voices, learn her craft at every stage of her education, find a means to reach her readers with abundant journals and presses, locate her book on the shelves of independent bookstores, perform at readings at venues filled to capacity, and have her words read and spoken long after she has passed.
A city that boasts the most diverse ZIP code in the United States should be a gateway to the world’s literature. A book published in any language and in any country in the world can find an audience in Seattle. Writers who pursue their craft in societies far less free than ours should know that their expression is welcome here.
Boudinot is about to embark on a trip through Europe to visit some of the other Cities of Literature and to ask their support for our bid. (Reykjavik, our sister city, has already agreed to send a letter of endorsement for Seattle's application.) In March, Boudinot will assemble and submit our application, which will include written and video testimony. There will be opportunities for public comment and participation through the application process; we'll let you know about the specific times and dates for those meetings right here on Slog.
(Update 3:40 PM: This post has been modified to note that there is no such thing as the National Library Association, and to clarify Reykjavik's role in the application process.)