Iowa City, USA
UNESCO City of Literature
Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.A., was appointed as the third UNESCO City of Literature in November 2008.
Since 1955 graduates and faculty of the University of Iowa have won more than 25 Pulitzer Prizes in literature. Iowa City has been home to such acclaimed authors as Flannery O’Connor, Wallace Stegner, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.; and the world-famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the world’s first Master of Fine Arts degree program in creative writing. Today, the city’s literary culture continues to thrive: there are more patrons of Iowa City’s public library than there are residents of Iowa City itself.
This small city in the center of the American heartland, may indeed, for its size, be the most literary city on earth. Often called the “Athens of the Midwest,” it has a unique set of influential literary institutions, which explore new ways to teach and support writers. At the same time, it has long been, quite simply, a place for writers: a haven, a destination, a proving ground, and a nursery.
Together, these synthesizing aspects – the writers and the institutions that have grown from them and for them – have created a history and an identity in which its citizens take enormous pride, prizing a role in celebrating and honoring writers and good writing.