Poetic Encounters

To mark the XII UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) Meeting in Krakow and Katowice in June 2018, Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature has contributed to the project ‘Poetic Encounters’, initiated by Heidelberg UNESCO City of Literature and Fabriano UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, to produce a specially bound and printed anthology celebrating literature and its vital place in world culture. 

51 poets from 27 UNESCO Cities of Literature have come together to celebrate the collaborative spirit which lies at the core of the UCCN and to support linguistic diversity through poetic expressions from around the world. The book is dedicated to all people worldwide valuing the power and richness of literature and advocating freedom of thought and speech. All texts were written or printed on beautiful handcrafted, folio-sized paper from Fabriano UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art. The paper was sent from Fabriano via Heidelberg to all UNESCO Cities of Literature worldwide and, after being filled with literary works, was sent all the way back to Fabriano where the unique book was bound.

The book was gifted to the Mayors of Krakow and Katowice by the mayors of Heidelberg and Fabriano at a special presentation during the annual meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on June 13th. 

We at the Reykjavík City of Literature office are delighted to take part  in this beautiful project that highlights our believe that poetry and art builds bridges between cultures and people, both within our communities and worldwide. 

Icelandic Poets

Contributing to the book, Icelandic poets Bragi Ólafsson and Soffía Bjarnadóttir were filmed as they wrote their poetry in Icelandic on the Fabriano paper. Bragi's poem is "Tuttugu línur um borgina" (Twenty lines about the city), first published in 2013 and subsequently in his poetry book Öfugsnáði (Bjartur, 2017) and Soffía's poem is from her book Ég er hér (I am Here; Forlagid Publishing, 2017). The book Poetic Encounters will be available in a web-edition on our website later this summer with all poems in original languages and English translations. Bragi's poem was translated to English by Lytton Smith and Soffía's poem by Meg Matich. 

Bragi Ólafsson

Bragi Ólafsson, born in Reykjavik is 1962, is an Icelandic writer of novels, short stories, plays and poetry. He started out as a poet and published his first collection of poetry in 1986, after which he took a publishing break while touring with his band The Sugarcubes. The band recorded three albums and toured extensively throughout the world. He stopped playing music in 1992, but is a co-owner of the record company Smekkleysa sm.hf (Bad Taste Ltd) that publishes popular music, jazz, modern Icelandic music and historical recordings from Iceland. Bragi’s novels are undoubtedly among the most original and remarkable Icelandic stories of recent years and he has also received critical acclaim for his plays and poetry. His work has been translated to a number of languages, including English.

As well as writing his own literature, Bragi has translated poetry from Spanish, English and French (Vicente Huidobro, Jack Mapanje, Guillaume Apollinaire,Tristan Tzara, Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob and Fernando Pessoa) and the novel City of Glass by Paul Auster.

Bragi‘s latest book of poetry is Öfugsnáði, published by Bjartur Publishing in Reykjavík in 2017. His latest novel is Sögumaður from 2015.

Soffía Bjarnadóttir

Soffía Bjarnadóttir (b. 1975) is an Icelandic poet and writer. Her first novel, Segulskekkja was published in Iceland in 2014 and the French translation by Zulma in 2016 (J’ai toujours ton cœur avec moi).  Her poetry includes the collections Beinhvít skurn (2015) and Ég er hér (2017). Soffía has sent forward two plays, one of which was developed in a theatre workshop at the National Theatre of Iceland. Soffía took part in the culture festival Les Boréales in France in 2016. 

Along with her writing career, Soffía does editing work, teaches creative writing and other creative subjects. She holds a MA degree in creative writing from the University of Iceland. 

The poetry book Ég er hér (I am Here), of which the featured poem is part, was published by Forlagið Publishing in Reykjavík in 2017. 

Films About the Project

In addition to the Reykjavík film mentioned above, you can watch a film about the wider Poetic Encounters project. This film is edited by Tel Aviv, UNESCO City of Media Arts, with music provided by Mannheim, UNESCO City of Music, was shown during the ‘Krakowice’ event to illustrate the project and its worldwide cooperation between UNESCO Creative Cities. The soundtrack of the film is taken from the joint music project ‘Mix the City – Mannheim’, a special music project that was launched in Katowice. 

Follow the social conversation using #CitiesofLit #Krakowice2018 and #UCCN2018. 

Creative Cities Network

UNESCO's City of Literature programme is part of a wider Creative Cities Network that was launched in 2004 and is currently made up of 180 UNESCO Creative Cities globally. As of 2017, the UNESCO Cities of Literature network of 28 cities represents 6 continents and 23 countries, and a combined population of over 26 million, 1250 libraries, 130 literary festivals and over 1200 bookshops. The Network is active in making the literary and creative sectors of cities thrive through the development and implementation of a shared global strategy, which aims to promote the network, share good practice, and ensure that literature reaches diverse audiences. 

About UNESCO Creative Cities Network Meeting

UNESCO Creative Cities Network Annual Meetings offer a unique occasion to strengthen the ties between cities from around the world and serves as a platform to define the strategic objectives of an expanded and well-balanced Network. 

Contributing authors from the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature in alphabetical order:

Mohammed Hussein Al Yaseen (Baghdad)
Emily Zoey Baker (Melbourne)
Soffía Bjarnadóttir (Reykjavík)
Matilde Camphilo (Óbidos)
Claudia Castro Luna (Seattle)
Eiléan Ni Chuilleanáin (Dublin)
Jacques Côté (Québec)
Maurizio Cucchi (Milan)
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (Dublin)
Carol Ann Duffy (Manchester)
Ralph Dutli (Heidelberg)
Fatemeh Ekhtesari (Lillehammer)
Mireille Gagné (Québec)
Rhian Gallagher (Dunedin)
Sergei Gogin (Ulyanovsk)
Lauren Haldeman (Iowa City)
Helena Janeczek (Milan)
Jakub Kornhauser (Krakow)
Onno Kosters (Utrecht)
Hasso Krull (Tartu)
Ko Kyungsook (Bucheon)
Małgorzata Lebda (Krakow)
Christine De Luca (Edinburgh)
John McAuliffe (Manchester)
Christopher Merrill (Iowa City)
Pedro Mexia (Óbidos)
Gcina Mhlope (Durban)
Tomáš Míka (Prague)
Ángeles Mora (Granada)
Bragi Ólafsson (Reykjavík)
Maarja Pärtna (Tartu)
Ana Pepelnik (Ljubljana)
Ruby Pinner (Norwich)
Jakub Řehák (Prague)
Anastacia-Reneé (Seattle)
José Carlos Rosales (Granada)
Andrej Rozman Roza (Ljubljana)
Marjana Sarka (Lviv)
Gigory Semenchuk (Lviv)
Alan Spence (Edinburgh)
George Szirtes (Norwich)
Marion Tauschwitz (Heidelberg)
Terje Thorsen (Lillehammer)
Gala Uzryutova (Ulyanovsk)
Hanneke van Eijken (Utrecht)
Chris Wallace-Crabbe (Melbourne)
Rory Waterman (Nottingham)
Georgina Wilding (Nottingham)
Iona Winter (Dunedin)
Ester Xargay (Barcelona)
David Ymbernon (Barcelona)

English translators from the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature in alphabetical order:

Sa’ad al-Hasani
Paul-Henri Campbell
Míriam Cano
Vitaliy Charnetsky
Marina Espasa
Hossein Fallah
Go Chang Soo
Katia Grubisic
Olivia Hellewell
Bernie Higgins
Ross Howard
Michele Hutchison
Brandon Lussier
W. Martin
Meg Matich
Amos Mattio
Askold Melnychuk
Tomáš Míka
Sadek R. Mohammed 
Ana Pepelnik
Frederika Randall
Paula Ribeiro
Rod Rojas
Lytton Smith
Pablo Strauss
Jayde Will
Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

Artists from Fabriano UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art

Paper and Watermark Museum – Fabriano
Project Curator: Giorgio Pellegrini
Paper makers: Luigi Mecella, Roberto Rapanotti, Federico Salvatori
Calligrapher: Maestro Amanuense Malleu
Book binder: Giuseppe Baldinelli

Idea and Concept:

Heidelberg UNESCO Creative City of Literature (Dr. Andrea Edel, Phillip Koban) & Fabriano UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art (Giorgio Pellegrini, Vittorio Salmoni, Carlo Pesaresi)
Overall Coordination: Heidelberg UNESCO Creative City of Literature (Phillip Koban)

Calligrapher in Heidelberg: Kornelia Roth
Part II with English translations has been designed by Bettina Bank (Heidelberg) and printed on the handcrafted Fabriano paper by Baier Digitaldruck GmbH Heidelberg.