Read the World

Texts on Freedom From UNESCO Cities of Literature

On Wednesday, October 10 at 5:30 pm, an exhibition of texts from nineteen UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world will be opened at the Reykjavík City Hall. At the opening, five Reykjavík poets will read from their work. They are Ewa Marcinek, Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir, Mazen Maarouf, Meg Matich and Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter. Musician, Svavar Knútur also performs. City council member Sabine Leskopf opens the exhibition.

About the exhibition

The exhibition Read the World honours Iceland‘s centenary as a sovereign nation.  The texts all ponder on the topics of freedom – whether of thought, mind or speach –, independence or rebellion. The Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature hopes that the exhibition encourages people to think about these important issues and their meaning for us as individuals and nations. The event also highlights the importance of intercultural dialogue and the invaluable contribution of foreign artists and cultural currents for Icelandic culture, sovereignty and developement, past and present. 

Cities of Literature Around the World

The UNESCO Cities of Literature taking part in the exhibition are Barcelona (Spain), Bucheon (S-Korea), Dublin (Ireland), Dunedin (New Zealand), Edinburgh (Scotland), Heidelberg (Germany), Iowa City (USA), Lillehammer (Norway), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Lviv (Ukraine), Manchester (England), Melbourne (Australia), Milan (Italy), Norwich (England), Nottingham (England), Obidos (Portugal), Qubec City (Canada), Reykjavík (Iceland) and Tartu (Estonia). 

During the exhibition time, from October 10 – 31, 2018, the texts and authors will be introduced on the Reykjavík City of Literature‘s website. 

Authors reading at the opening event

Ewa Marcinek is from Poland but has lived in Reykjavík for the last few years. She is one of the founding authors of Ós Pressan, a non-profit initiative designed to bring out and promote new authors and to create an inclusive writing community in Iceland. Texts by Ewa have been published in Icelandic journals. Ewa plays around with private and public identities, personal stories and memories. She writes mostly in English while polishing her Icelandic. 

Linda Vilhjámsdóttir is one of Iceland‘s best known contemporary poets. Her latest book, Smáa letrið (Small Print) that came out earlier this month is her seventh book of poetry. It is a book of feminist revolutionary poetry about women and the life of women past and present. Linda's poetry book Frelsi (Freedom; 2015) received two literary prizes in Iceland and Linda was named "European Poet of Freedom" for the Polish translation of the book in 2017. The book has also been translated to German and poems by Linda have been published in other languages, including English. 

Mazen Maarouf is a Palestinian-Icelandic writer, poet, translator and journalist. He has published three collections of poetry: The Camera Doesn’t Capture Birds (1st edition Ed. Al-Anwar 2004, 2nd edition Ed. Al-Kamel 2010), Our Grief Resembles Bread (Ed. Al-Farabi 2000), and An Angel Suspended On a Clothesline (Ed. Riad El-Rayyes 2012), which has been translated into other languages including French and Icelandic. A selection of his poems has been translated into several languages including German, Spanish, Swedish, Chinese, Maltese, Urdo and Malay. His work is currently being translated into English by Kareem James Abu-Zeid and Nathalie Handal. Maarouf‘s first short story collection is Jokes for the Gunmen (Ed. Riad El-Rayyes 2015), receiving positive feebacks from readers and the press reviews over the Middle East.

Meg Matich is a Reykjavik-based poet and translator. Her translations have appeared in or are forthcoming from PEN America, Exchanges, Words Without Borders, Asymptote, Gulf Coast, and others. In 2015, she received the PEN Heim Translation Fund grant for her translation of Magnús Sigurðsson’s Cold Moons  (Phoneme Media, 2017). Meg recently published an anthology of Icelandic poetry for the Café Review (summer 2018). She’s currently at work on two novel translations from Icelandic. She has received grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Comission, the DAAD, the Banff Centre, the Icelandic Literature Center, and Columbia University. 

Sofie Hermansen Eriksdatter is a Danish poet living in Reykjavík. She studied creative writing at Forfatterskolen in Norway and holds a Master‘s degree in esthetics and cultural studies from Århus University in Denmark and the University of Iceland. Sofie writes poetry and short prose and focuses on the interconnections of man and nature as well as micro and macro-worlds. Sofie‘s poetry book Under gulvet gror der planter, with visual art by Maria Molbech, came out earlier this year and her poetry has also been published by the Norwegian publishing house Cappelen Damm. 

Svavar Knútur is an Icelandic musician and lyricist. His lates album is Brot (2015), which is his fourth solo album and he has also released CDs with his band Hraun. Svavar Knútur has perfomed extensively both in Iceland and abroad and is known for his lively stage performance that often includes storytelling.  He sings both in Icelandic and English.