Hiccup for Dunedin's 'City of Literature'

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins with Czeslaw Milosz's The History of Polish Literature in the Octagon. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins with Czeslaw Milosz's The History of Polish Literature in the Octagon. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Krakow has opposed Dunedin's bid to become a Unesco City of Literature.

The second-largest city in Poland wants Dunedin to be more engaging and ''better prepared for the responsibility that comes with the title''.

Dunedin is aiming to be designated a world literary centre, alongside Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik and Norwich, which have all supported the city's application.

The only City of Literature not to support the bid was Krakow.

Krakow City of Literature international projects manager Justyna Jochym told the Otago Daily Times she assessed the Dunedin bid and did not support it because Dunedin lacked any relationship with Krakow.

''We would like to see more communication and more potential ideas for co-operation.''

Possible plans could be an exchange of poets, or a collaborative literary project, Ms Jochym said.

Krakow improved its bid with an "onslaught of new initiatives and projects", she said. 

She encouraged Dunedin to do the same.

Krakow's ''big step'' was hosting Cities of Literature representatives.

''One of our biggest turning points during that entire three-year process was organising a conference in Krakow and we invited the Cities of Literature, and literary figures, to Krakow to demonstrate what the city had on offer.''

If Dunedin engaged more, Krakow would support a future bid, she said.

''We are very willing, but these things have to established.''

Krakow supported the bids of six cities this year, but she would not disclose who they were.

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins said he was ''disappointed'' Ms Jochym did not share the vision of the Dunedin bid organisers, who will find out on November 30 if the city has been successful.

The Polish community played an important part in the Dunedin's settlement history, he said.

''It would make sense for them to lead any relationship strengthening between here and Krakow.''

He was confident the bid would ''ultimately'' be successful.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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