Located along the Tigris River and at the junction of historic trade roads, Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and the country’s largest city being home to more than 7.6 million inhabitants. Nominated as the 2013 Arab Capital of Culture, the city is acknowledged as one of the Arab region’s principal centres of literary creation and has gained a reputation as a vehicle to foster tolerance, understanding and peace. Being a city of diversity, the literature sector in Baghdad releases several monthly newspapers in three languages, namely Arabic, English and French.
With literary creation being at the core of the city’s cultural life, the Directorate of Cultural Relations allocates $US150,000 of its annual budget in support of literary events and women and young writers. Such funding enabled Baghdad to organize the first International Conference on Translations and the Nazik al-Malaika Award for women writers. Throughout the year, many poetry festivals, including al-Jawahiri Festival, are hosted in Baghdad with the genre of poetry being one of the leitmotivs in multiple literary events.
Baghdad benefits from state-owned and nongovernmental literary research centres and programmes such as: the Union of Iraqi Writers, the House of Cultural Affairs, the al-Mamoon House for Translation and Publishing, the Iraqi House of Poetry. These centres are involved in the promotion of literary creations, their dissemination through translations, the protection of the rights of writers, and the alleviation of illiteracy for sustainable development.
As a Creative City of Literature, Baghdad envisages:
- promoting cross-cutting ventures between the creative fields covered by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, notably at the Spring of All Arts International Festival;
- developing the Network of Baghdadi Cultural Houses aiming at strengthening the creation, production, distribution and dissemination of literary and cultural activities, goods and services;
- enhancing the exchange of ideas and knowledge on poetry with the Creative Cities of Literature at the Baghdad International Poetry Festival and the Baghdad International Poetry Award; and
- broadening cultural environments and opportunities for youth, in particular through poetry writing, to discover talents among the new generation.