Dublin became a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, after a lot of work and co-operation to prepare our bid. Many people weren’t surprised as we are the home of Wilde, Swift, Joyce, Beckett and Shaw – but those of us involved in the bid were all too aware that this designation is about so much more than literary giants of the past. For us it’s a very practical thing and makes for lots of amazing work on all kinds of literary projects.
Our Vision is for Dublin to be recognised locally, nationally and internationally as a place where reading, writing and storytelling are experiences embedded in the cultural, social and economic life of the city. We’ve got gender equality on our minds at the moment and are working to redress the imbalance that has long existed in the literary world. It’s something we’re particularly committed to in 2018 with the centenary of women’s suffrage.
That brings me to the announcement of our 2018 Dublin: One City, One Book festival, which will be a huge celebration of Irish women writers, many of whom feature in the book The Long Gaze Back, which we will be encouraging all citizens of the city to read and engage with, though a month long programme of events in libraries and all sort of other venues.
We also programme throughout the year, with a major reading campaign for children, an annual event to celebrate European literature in translation, a Readers’ Day and many author events. We also run a Reader in Residence programme for schools and a Dublin City Writer in Residence programme.
The most significant way in which we cooperate internationally is through the Dublin Literary Award, which involves approximately 150 public libraries around the world communicating with us and nominating books every year. The award would not be possible without this cooperation and sharing. So if your city’s public libraries aren’t already nominating, please get involved. Your favourite writer might just win €100,000!
Please get in touch with us if you’ve got a writer visiting Dublin or if you can come see us yourself. If you’ve got any ideas for projects or collaborations we’d love to hear them and would hope to be able to help.
Alison Lyons, Director of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature