The 2014 Digital Writers’ Festival might have come and gone, but if you missed the ‘Cities of Literature Global Meetup’ that I organised and moderated, then here is where you can still watch the world’s first public gathering of representatives from all seven Cities of Literature.
Being a writer and reader in a City of Literature should mean something unique to those who scribble and read scribble in the mere eleven cities across the globe that are honoured with this title. It’s a title we should wear with pride – the patch sewn into the right shoulder of your favourite jacket, the bling on our rings, and yet to date, the community engagement with this title has been occasionally coughed and mostly whispered in the speaker section of JB Hi-Fi. This is partly because Melbourne is already home to great writers, poets, festivals, a strong small and not-so-small publishing network, a writers’ centre, a Wheeler Centre and some literary treats in between. And yet with all this literature flowing across bluestone, it isn’t blatantly obvious that we actually are a City of Literature. There is no City of Literature branding on the welcome sign from the airport, no daily literature programming on the big screen at Fed Square, no big Boggle on Swanston Street, or even a preference for funding literature over other art forms in local council and state arts budgets. So when I ask people to pen a top ten of Melbourne, it’s no surprise that few list literature and even fewer our UNESCO status.
So I started compiling a list of Civic Publishing ideas, some of them mine, some sourced from other cities that are proudly flying the flag. Some ideas are big and some might seem trivial, but I firmly believe that if all the ideas are considered as a part of a larger showcase of Melbourne being a City of Literature, then I think every single one can contribute to our UNESCO status.
1: All bars and pubs to serve drinks on coasters printed with short stories and poems.
2: A percentage of Melbourne’s billboard spaces devoted to six word stories.
3: Convert unused post office boxes into ‘mystery’ bookcases that people can subscribe to. Boxes could be subscribed to by theme or genre, and contain a mix of local and international literature.
4: City of Melbourne Literature pop-up office to be located at different unused shopfronts across Melbourne’s suburbs.
5: City of Melbourne street trading cylinders devoted to showcasing local literature, or perhaps as a series of writers’ studios.
6: Text type noise walls used as standard for all freeways: http://bit.ly/19opWM1
7: Glass panels of tram and bus shelters to display literature decal installations.
8: Bespoke short stories presented on takeaway coffee cups and bags like those published by Chipotle and Melbourne Cup Project: http://bit.ly/1ngCFYO
9: Turn public phone booths into curated pop up street libraries: http://bit.ly/zruUyo
10: Use Federation Square big screen, free WiFi and mobiles to play mutli-player Boggle: http://www.wordsplay.net
11: All Myki cards to present short poems or six word stories by local poets and writers
12: Book vending machines at all major train stops, showcasing locally written content. A vending machine at the Wheeler Centre selling books from speakers of events past and up-coming, as well as selected titles referenced by the ‘current’ event.
13: Convert unused doorways and window spaces into illuminated exhibition spaces for books and literature projects.
14: Locative Literature toilet paper: http://bit.ly/L0cseE
15: Poems and short stories printed on the insides of hamburger wrappers = “McStories”. With 5 million hamburgers sold globally every day, even if only 1% of these stories were read by customers, these 50,000 stories would make McDonald’s the most significant daily contributor to global publishing and literacy.
16: Replace all ‘My Family’ stickers with reading mudflap girl / boy decals: http://bit.ly/1btYusP
17: Rename ‘Melbourne Central’ railway station to ‘Literature Central’.
18: All people who live in Melbourne must drive with ‘City of Literature’ number plates.
19: The Moat Cafe at the Wheeler Centre to always serve alphabet soup.
20: Exhibit literature projects in the boxes of the Brunetti City Square Chimney Stack: http://bit.ly/17pJ8Je
21: Unused side of Sandridge Bridge converted to permanent glass fronted shipping container writers’ studios: http://bit.ly/18xSfVh
22: Writers pop-up residencies in glass-fronted shipping containers at shopping centres, sports ovals, etc.
23: Poems printed on biodegradable shopping bags, available from all supermarkets.
24: Book sculptures pouring from the windows of the State Library of Victoria: http://bit.ly/17NClbV
25: Book furniture for the Wheeler Centre reception, complete with books from presenters: http://bit.ly/ZRfA1F
26: Minute long stories or poems printed on Minties wrappers.
27: National Scripps Spelling Bee broadcast Federation Square, with audiences spelling words via mobiles and using the free wifi to send live results on big screen.
28: Lucky dip bibliomat selling a range of local literature: http://bit.ly/UuEX4c
29: Pop up libraries in our parks: http://bit.ly/12PPfnn
30: Melbourne Central train station to become a Platform Publishing where via qr codes printed on bookshelf decals next to seats, narrated stories can be experienced in the places where the passengers are standing or travelling to: http://bit.ly/17jvpnq
31: More publishing opportunities via printing short stories on napkins, like the beautiful ones created by Tiny Owl Workshop: http://tinyowlworkshop.com/
32: All exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria to present fictional stories based on specific paintings on display, and narration is heard via audio tour or QR codes.
33: All local council meetings to devote 5 minutes to a reading by a local poet or writer.
34: Bus stops with curated mini-libraries featuring local writers: http://bit.ly/1cfLtUj
35: All eBook devices sold in Australia to be preloaded with sample chapters from local writers.
36: Publishers to further support local writers by increasing the standard royalty rates.
37: Streets that feature in local literature to be named after their writers.
38: Pedestrian crossings to play spoken poetry and stories while waiting lights to turn green.
39: More support for local writers via discounts to public transport and utility bills.
40: Free eBook chapters by local writers available to people connecting via WiFi at Federation square.
41: All vacant shop fronts devoted to pop-up writers’ studios.
42: Residential wheelie bins showcasing six word stories by local authors via adhesive decals.
43: More visual art like Jonathan Callan’s amazing phone book sculptures: http://bit.ly/13DnkSd
44: A phone booth at Federation Square where you can dial up and listen to narrated stories.
45:Public seating in parks to play narrated short stories automatically triggered via motion sensors.
46: Street bins to reward placement of litter by playing a narrated six word story: http://bit.ly/s2nD60
47: Contrasting six word stories on either side of rotating billboard at Punt Rd near Richmond Station: http://goo.gl/maps/Z52EN
48: More pixel poetry residencies using LED advertising signs: http://bit.ly/XDTccr
49: Six word stories and poems printed on the insides of pizza boxes.
50: More acts of literary kindness like the journals created by ‘Sharing Ink’: http://bit.ly/15x8ReW
51: Writers and poets offered ongoing residencies within Federation Square’s Fracture Gallery.
52: Wrap around palindrome stories printed onto stubby holders.
53: All Wheeler Centre events to dedicate a Melbourne PEN chair to a relevant persecuted writer.
54: School libraries to dedicate a Melbourne PEN chair to a persecuted writer, with a QR code linked to their work.
55: Melbourne Writers’ Festival to create a digital pass to webcasts of live or sold out events, complete with online forum and dedicated question time.
56: Present more poetry and six word stories using electronic road signs: http://bit.ly/1aXDCvI
57: Pop-up beach library curated with local content: http://bit.ly/15LWB9j
58: Illuminated location based text stories featured in Gertrude Street Projection Festival.
59: Location based ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ stories delivered via Google Glass.
60: Locative micro stories and poems stencilled on select rollerdoors.
61: Locative stories presented as text decals across all of Melbourne’s vacant glass shopfronts.
62: Have an AFL and A League storytelling round where a poet or writer reads aloud a short story before match.
63: Event listings with Melbourne’s ‘What’s On’ guide to include a category for writing events.
64: All 31 Melbourne councils contribute to a City of Literature Fund for new local literature projects.
65: Have some @choosatron available to hire, presenting LocLit by local writers: http://kck.st/15r6OsJ
66: QR Code based ‘digital bookshelf’ decals on pavement at all taxi ranks, to showcase local literature.
67: A ‘Welcome to Melbourne: City of Literature’ sign.
68: Painted or decal ‘text crossings’ across roads for pedestrians instead of zebra crossings.
69: Poems and short stories presented on the backs of bus seats.
70: Public bookshelves on sidewalks, curated with locally written content: http://bit.ly/157J51F
71: Giant book spines of locally published novels to cover car park facades: http://bit.ly/NaeCrb
72: Newspaper and magazine sharing via bench clips on park benches: http://bit.ly/14T49ZN
73: Local literature content to appear on screens at Federation Square and Atrium every lunchtime.
74: All ‘Major Projects’ within metropolitan area to reflect Melbourne’s status as a City of Literature.
75: Melbourne’s Wikipedia article to dedicate a section to Literature under ‘Culture’: http://bit.ly/3iTatD
76: Traffic signal boxes to present poetry and six word stories: http://bit.ly/hUHMA8
77: Narrated story station available free via WiFi on all trains, buses and trams.
78: QRcode bookshelf on trains, curated with books set at places along that line.
79: Create a City of Literature Melbourne Office website.
80: City of Literature website to stream audio + text of local poems and stories every day.
81: City of Literature Office to run hosted tours of local literature experiences.
82: City of Literature Office offer writers/artists grants to fund local lit projects.
83: QR codes in fabric of train, tram and bus seats, linked to City of Lit website.
84: Poems and short story decals presented across train windows.
85: Street hoardings at building sites presenting location based poetry: http://bit.ly/147w6tB
86: Lightbox poetry and short stories along Hosier Lane: http://bit.ly/16PTRJZ
87: Poetry and stories presented on the bare sides of buildings: http://bit.ly/15vRjAL
88: Large decals of local book titles appear within parking spaces.
89: Present more quality locative literature experiences via platforms like Stories Unbound.
90: Community storytelling spaces made from shipping containers: http://kck.st/XbR369
91: Poetry and stories concerning consumerism and waste presented on decals across dumpsters: http://bit.ly/15Ac7mI
92: ‘TicketTales’ = Placed based stories printed on backs of event tickets, like those for events at the MCG, Rod Laver Arena, Arts Centre, etc.
93: Story walks showcasing local literature along streets and laneways via updateable screens or lightboxes.
94: Guided story tours of Phryne Fisher’s Melbourne.
95: ‘TeaTales’ = Local short stories and poems printed on tea towels.
96: Departure or arrival destination specific novellas for Qantas Airways “Stories For Every Journey”: http://vimeo.com/68502791
97: Food themed short stories and poems published on the backs of menus.
98: An annual fee paying ‘Citizen of Literature’ member card to assist in funding local civic literature projects.
99: ‘Citizen of Literature’ member card to offer discounts to book stores, writing events and workshops.
100: ‘Moving Libraries’ = bespoke local books in perspex encased shelves on trains, trams and buses, which is accessed via ‘Citizen of Literature’ member card.
101: Subscribe to a ‘literature’ account with Google, for curated local stories and profiles presented daily via the homepage ‘doodle’.
102: Newspaper vending machines on city pavements re-purposed to showcase local literature.
103: More community built honour libraries showcasing local poetry and stories: http://littlefreelibrary.org/
104: Sculptural libraries on public pavements curated with local literature: http://bit.ly/18fof1Y
105: Micro locative stories presented in-situ via Post-it notes:
106: All major Melbourne festivals and events to have a literature component.
107: City Square Xmas tree made of stacked vacuum packed books, and then given to local honour libraries in New Year.
108: Text based street art to be recognised as contributing to Melbourne’s status as a City of Literature.
109: Postcards promoting City of Literature status with a printed micro story or poem:
110: Reusable shopping bags promoting City of Literature status with micro story or poem:
111: Fortune cookies containing poems and short stories written by local writers = StoryCookies
112: Street level windows used to display short story decals: http://bit.ly/1bJL4Mw
113: Local bookshops devote part of front window to bespoke local short story text decal.
114: Irani Café conversations printed on plates: http://bit.ly/YVIgF5
115: Scrabble tiles stuck in situ to create locative short story pieces: http://bit.ly/17utv40
116: Poetry hanging from trees at the Otago Museum Reserve: http://bit.ly/ITIPLX
117: Manhole covers showcasing local poems and micro stories: http://bit.ly/IFiTDu
118: Blackboard facades on ground level buildings, presenting locative stories in chalk.
119: Stickers presenting locative short stories: http://bit.ly/I75ZhQ
120: Location based stories presented on strips of embossed tape = TapeStories: http://bit.ly/1bPfvAk
121: Typographic sculptures telling locative stories: http://bit.ly/1jojkR3
122: The LED strip lights of the Eureka tower to display local poems and six word stories: http://bit.ly/1fr8NBo
123: Annual Myer Xmas windows story to be written by local Melbourne writer as opposed to the overseas writers that are currently employed.
124: ‘BookBikes’ pedalling mobile libraries to the streets: http://slidesha.re/1cfXI84
125: More text murals in our streets and laneways: http://bit.ly/JNYGgc
126: To cherish Melbourne’s status as a City of Literature:
127: Assess all existing opportunities for writers to ensure they support local talent.
128: Create an interactive map of existing public infrastructure, listing potential civic publishing sites.
129: Reserved seats for readers on trams, trains and buses: http://bit.ly/LtnBWc
130: Create a City of Literature mission statement with distinct goals and aspirations.
131: ‘Word of the day’ blackboards placed on footpaths and other public spaces, like those by the Free Word Centre: http://on.fb.me/1nFto7G
132: A dedicated shelf in airport waiting areas and bookstores for novellas and short stories by local writers.
133: Words in snow presenting stories in public spaces, like Shelley Jackson’s ‘SNOW Project’:
134: Short stories printed on paper bags in the fruit section of supermarkets.
135: Writers’ residencies offered on urban and regional trains like the #AmtrakResidency offered by Amtrak: http://bit.ly/1l6XaW4
136: A radio station broadcasting literary content from the Wheeler Centre that’s only available to people in the immediate area, such as on the lawns of the State Library of Victoria.
137: Festival bags for both the Melbourne Writers’ Festival and the Emerging Writers’ Festival to have a local short story printed on its side.
138: Abolish council rates for bookstores to help strengthen local network.
139: Ongoing writers’ residencies in all public gardens.
140: Writers’ notebook equivalent of the beautiful Sketchbook Project Mobile Library project: http://vimeo.com/65228802
141: A vintage mobile library travelling across Melbourne’s public spaces: http://bit.ly/1j1aTxK
142: Ongoing public book swaps like those in Krakow: http://bit.ly/1hyv0y3
143: Join the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) to offer a safe haven for persecuted writers: http://www.icorn.org/
144: To display Melbourne’s City of Literature logo on centre court during the Australian Open.
145: Include a “Published in a City of Literature” byline printed on all books from Melbourne.
146: Plaques displaying local poems and short stories on all park benches.
147: Literary trails marked with local literature like those in Prague: http://bit.ly/1jtFLD3
148: Trams and trains to play narrated local poems and six word stories between stations.
149: LiftLit = local poems and six word stories heard in lifts across Melbourne.
150: The City of Melbourne to mention UNESCO City of Literature status in the final draft of their arts strategy: http://bit.ly/1lfAmUr
151: QR codes linked to literary content on benches like the 50 ‘City Codes’ in Krakow: http://bit.ly/1lGYMHF
152: Street signs that signpost important literary landmarks.
153: Public walls made of ‘book bricks’ like those by Light Reading Melbourne: http://bit.ly/Q2d33e
154: Remove tertiary education fees for all creative writing / literature courses in Melbourne.
155: Ongoing writer and poet in residence program in each of Melbourne’s libraries.
156: The Wheeler Centre to host a ‘Thinker in Residence’ program.
157: Use our car parks as a canvas for public art text installations: http://bit.ly/1jtezE3
158: Melbourne’s City of Literature website to host readings by local writers and poets on a regular basis.
159: Online panel with shortlistees for Premier’s unpublished manuscript awards.
160: Book wholesalers to print City of Literature status / logo on their boxes.
161: A series of postage stamps presenting bespoke short stories, like the award-winning ones created for Dublin: http://bit.ly/1olyExf
162: Connect and present stories of homelessness via street artists within the streets, and then sell limited edition prints: http://streetstories.org.uk/
163: A bookshop in a van promoting local literature to tourists: http://bit.ly/1yk84yl
164: Street ‘way-finding’ signage displaying local short story trails: http://bit.ly/1DFsVNY
165: Walking poetry tours by local poets, taking audiences to places that are either unknown or unique.
166: Public storyboxes for people to post anonymous letters according to theme: http://bit.ly/1EryYEv
167: Poems and micro stories printed and presented in the advertising frames on public toilet doors: http://bit.ly/1uF6qCu
168: Public bookshelves in streets like those in Prague: http://bit.ly/17ijxDw
169: T-shirts printed with local poems and micro stories: http://bit.ly/1EZHQ3S
170: 365 poems on buses by 365 poets: http://bit.ly/1weyYkZ
171: A literature subject on local writing that’s experienced in places where the stories are set: http://bit.ly/1AYEBeD
172: Live broadcasting of all significant literature events so that people can experience and participate digitally.
173: Honour libraries curated by libraries and presented in public places presenting examples of what each branch offers.
174: A takeaway poetry van creating bespoke poetry across the city: http://bit.ly/1vLYtLM
175: Text based design for the seat fabric on public transport.
176: A quiet carriage on trains for readers.
177: Activate more unused commercial premises as temporary writing spaces for writers and poets: http://bit.ly/1EbrtDw
178: Short stories presented on tables in cafes and shopping malls: http://bit.ly/1vkz5lg
179: Narrated micro stories while on hold to council like how Reykjavik City of Literature are already presenting.
180: A digital literary map of each City of Literature with markers for libraries, events, book clubs and book trails.
181: Reinstate Olympic literature events for Melbourne’s 2028 bid: http://bit.ly/1fUCyKI
182: Cascading poems presented on escalators across Melbourne.
183: Ongoing ‘Lawn Libraries’ like those by the Sydney Festival: http://bit.ly/1z4UWZh
184: Stories on park benches like those by Reykjavik and York: http://bit.ly/1t4OAc3
185: Streets named after writers to feature honour libraries with books by or influenced by those writers.
186: Rotation curation of all Cities of Literature Twitter accounts by local writers to showcase local literature.
187: Art cases in public places displaying concrete poetry and text based artworks.
188: Instead of sexist and racist slogans, Wicked Campers to present six word stories and poems on the sides of their vans: http://ab.co/1tRrqtb
189: To help regenerate communitues offer free houses for writers, like those being offered in Detroit: http://writeahouse.org/
190: Prioritise and activate how “an urban environment in which literature plays an integral part” applies to our Cities of Literature
191: A Moomba Festival book-themed float designed by kids and based on a locally written book.
192: National poetry slam competition presented on stage at Moomba Festival.
193: Local writers crowned as King and Queen of Moomba.
194: Discounted cinema advertising slots for local book trailers to screen before features.
195: Pop-up bookshops on sidewalks representing Melbourne’s bookstores: http://bit.ly/1BrlYuL
196: Pop-up bookshop at Federation Square representing a different local bookstore every month. The available books could be themed according to the significant cultural events occurring across the square.
197: Extend Literature Lane to unnamed adjoining lanes to create a literary precinct.
198: More book sharing and reading spaces in our parks like those in Moscow: http://bit.ly/ZPdCSX
199: Street trading cylinder dedicated to showcasing zines and independent publishing: http://bit.ly/1ErHC6R
200: A floating bookshop on the Yarra: http://bit.ly/1bcKUkF