Last week, the City of Reykjavik was introduced as UNESCO City of Literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011 where Iceland was the Guest of Honour. The program took place in the Icelandic pavilion, where Icelandic readers were featured on large video screens accompanied by images of Icelandic nature.
Jon Gnarr, The Mayor of Reykjavik, spoke about his own belief in the importance of literature, explaining that it is the mirror in which we can see our souls. After his speech, writer Petur Gunnarsson talked about his newly published book Mein Reykjavik, where he guides the reader through his literary Reykjavik, giving examples from poems and other texts by Icelandic authors.
In addition, both Gnarr and Gunnarsson joined Einar Orn Benediktsson, Chair of Reykjavik City Committee of Culture and Tourism, in reciting German translations of famous Icelandic poems, to which they received great feedback from the audience.
Furthermore, Gnarr and Peter Ripken of ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) signed an agreement making Reykjavik a City of Refuge for persecuted writers; the first writer is expected to arrive in Reykjavik in November.
Helge Lunde, the Director of ICORN, said, “This is a great achievement and a major breakthrough for our organisation. The acclaimed writer and President of Icelandic PEN Sjon took the initiative, and the municipality actively embraced the idea of becoming an ICORN city of refuge. We believe that Reykjavik will play an important role in the future development of ICORN.”
More information about Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature can be found at www.cityofliterature.is.