Population: 9.5 million
Baghdad was the first UNESCO City of Literature in Asia.
The popular music in Baghdad is called Maqam and it is based on Arabic poetry.
In addition to the various theatres, museums, libraries, bookshops, cultural centers, and other spaces for lectures, conferences, conventions, and symposia, Baghdad is also home to more than thirty cultural saloons and eight cultural houses.
Bayt al-Hikma, the House of Wisdom, an academy of knowledge and culture, was established in Baghdad in the eighth century. Scores of translators, scientists, scribes, authors, academics, writers, authors, copyists, and others used to meet there every day for translation, reading, writing, scribing, discourse, dialogue, and discussion. Thousands of scientific, philosophical, and literary books in different languages were translated there. This translation movement in Bayt al-Hikma formed a nexus that connected East and West. Today, Bayt al-Hikma contains a Universal Library and is home to the Baghdad City of Literature main office.
The Children’s Culture House was established in Baghdad in 1969 to promote literature written for children. It organizes festivals, events, creative writing workshops, and conferences. Presently, it is one of Baghdad City of Literature’s main partners.
THE LANTERNS OF HOPE: A POETRY PROJECT FOR IRAQI YOUTH
This project was launched in collaboration with the International Writing Program (IWP) in Iowa City.
The aim of the project is to encourage youth, from the ages of 16-23, to creatively communicate their vision for their country. The project’s aim is to give the youth a space where their voices can be heard, allowing them to speak about the way the world sees their country, and to provide them with confidence and mentorship as emerging writers.
The International Writing Program (IWP) included six distinguished poets, five Iraqis writing in Arabic and Kurdish and one American writing in English and translating from the Kurdish, to act as mentors and advisers throughout the process. This local team of advisers, along with a number of literary organizations in Iraq, assisted in promoting the program and selecting entries for publication. A selection of poems was chosen to be anthologized in an ebook and printed in a limited soft-cover edition. All work was translated into English, Arabic, and Kurdish to further highlight the value of the diversity of languages and cultures within our society. The project culminated in a recognition ceremony honoring all the participants and celebrating the anthology’s publication in 2016.
BAGHDAD SPRING OF CREATIVITY FESTIVAL
This festival was initiated immediately upon the UNESCO designation of Baghdad as City of Literature in December 2015. Currently, it is organized every March. The first one was organized in 2016 with the third organized in 2018. Its aims are navigating possibilities for developing synergetic initiatives and promoting cross-sectoral interactions between literature and other creative fields such as music, gastronomy, crafts and folk art, design, and fashion.
The major book festival in Baghdad is the Baghdad International Book Fair. It was launched in 1978 and has been running in the city annually since then.
The fair includes books that satisfy the literary and cognitive choices for all demographics and age groups of the population of the city. It attracts thousands of readers who are eager to follow up on the latest publications in all fields of knowledge.
Normally the program of the fair includes book releases, panel discussions, meet-and-greets, debates, seminars, and lectures. In 2018, the Baghdad International Book Fair marked the largest participation in its history with more than 600 publishing houses attending from 18 different countries.