Cities of Literature Annual Conference 2023: Quebec City

20 October 2023 - News

The Cities of Literature gathered in Quebec City, Canada 9-13th October 2023 to share ideas, inspiration and best practice. Manchester was thrilled to spend a week amongst esteemed colleagues from 34 Creative Cities around the world.

During our time in Quebec City we visited the Maison de Littérature where the Quebec City of Literature team are based, as well as many libraries, bookshops, attended the launch of the Québec en Toutes Lettres literature festival, learnt from our colleagues and met with UNESCO Creative City representatives from across Canada.

The week began with a breakfast briefing featuring spoken word, music and an official address from UNESCO followed by a visit to the Maison de Littérature, a hub for literature within and without the bounds of books. Dedicated to and open to all, the Maison is a place for writing, creating, sharing and hosting literary events in a lively, friendly and warm atmosphere. It is a place for self-expression, creation and promotion of literary arts. Its library is a part of the Bibliothèque de Québec.

The next day we took a trip to The Centre d’interprétation historique de Sainte-Foy, which is housed in a 17th century building, once the presbytery of the Notre-Dame-de-Foy parish. We took part in work sessions with the three other Canadian creative cities: Montreal (Design), Toronto (Media Arts) and London (Music), at the invitation of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

After this was an exciting visit to the yet-to-open Gabrielle-Roy library. This will be the central library of the Bibliothèque de Québec, a network of 26 public libraries throughout the city. Gabrielle-Roy is undergoing a major renovation and will reopen in the spring of 2024. This trendsetting library will be a hub for cultural and community organisations and offer a wide range of services and activities to the public.

That evening was a literary tour of heritage building the Morrin Centre, featuring local artists who created a literary circuit of pieces to experience as you move around the building. We loved performances and pieces from the likes of Francis Desharnais, comic book artist who has featured at the Lakes International Comic Arts Festival and Rachel McCrum who was the first BBC Scotland Poet in Residence.

The next day we visited La Liberté book shop, a family bookshop, founded in 1945, run by three generations of the Lalibertés, plus a visit to the Monique-Corriveau library where we presented Quebec City with a children’s book from each of our respective Cities of Literature – a tradition that takes place at every annual Cities of Literature conference.

Pop-up performances from the local literary community followed us throughout the week, including a beautiful reading on the Saint Lawrence river from Jean Désy.

We were lucky enough to visit the Wendake Reservation on our final day, to learn about indigenous writers. Wendake is home to the Huron Wendat nation, renowned for its culture and its revitalisation work for wendat language and traditional crafts.

Of course we took more of Manchester with us too: in the form of artwork and words by Shamshad Khan and Audrey Albert for the Toponomy Exhibition; and as part of Multivox (pictured at the top), in which poetry from 23 Cities of Literature was made into a soundscape and a local dance company created the awe-inspiring opening performance for the literature festival. Manchester poet Yusra Warsama featured in the piece which formed the opening celebration for the Québec en Toutes Lettres literature festival.