#GlobalPhiladelphia #PhiladelphiaLiterature #poetry #PhillyPoetryDay
Good news for Philadelphia. The Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) is helping to sponsor Philadelphia as a World Heritage City, a UNESCO distinction.
I had the privilege of meeting Zabeth Teelucksingh, the GPA’s executive director, at Community College of Philadelphia last week when she was a guest speaker for International Festival, an annual spring event. I was there to accept an award for a poem for a contest among faculty, and even better was seeing that two of my students had been selected by the contest judges for the essays they wrote about their international journeys to come to this country. Teelucksingh gave the keynote address, and I was delighted to gain insight into the application process GPA is undertaking to make this designation a reality.
Philadelphia already has seen Independence Hall gain designation as a World Heritage Site. The city now wants that designation broadened. The World Heritage City designation is one of six designations overseen by UNESCO.
For a long time, I have told anyone who will listen that I’d like to find collaborators to help make Philadelphia a UNESCO City of World Literature, which is an additional distinction and part of its Creative Cities Network program. Currently, only Iowa City has this feather in its cap. Philadelphia should not only be a World Heritage Site, in my opinion, but it should also be honored for its ongoing contribution to the literary (and other arts) as a Creative City or City of World Literarure. The Global Philadelphia Association is taking the first step in making the former happen, and it just might some day lead to the latter opportunities at some point in the future.
Philadelphia not only holds special significance as the birthplace of America, it’s also a city that has been the stomping grounds for writers as diverse as Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe –and, more recently– the likes of poets Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and Edward Hirsch, each of whom studied here, as did novelist John Edgar Wideman. Pearl Buck lived for decades in Bucks County, and Sonja Sanchez, Eleanor Wilner, and Elaine Terranova have all been literary prize-winners who have made the city their permanent home. (And I haven’t even scratched the surface of Philly’s Language Poets.) It’s the way language arts thrive in Philadelphia academically and on the grass roots level that make me happy to live here, and we shouldn’t forget the city’s history as a major publishing hub, either.
Efforts by folks like the people at the Global Philadelphia Association are welcome, and this idea of becoming a World Heritage City is long overdue. I’m confident it will happen, and that it will lead to even greater things to come.