Very few cities in Kerala can perhaps boast the legacy of writers such as Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, Sanjayan, S.K. Pottekkatt, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, N.N. Kakkad, and U.A. Khader. Adding to this is the presence of literary publications such as the Mathrubhumi weekly, a vast network of libraries, and annual literary events such as Kerala Literature Festival.
So it was quite natural that Kozhikode was proposed by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) to be branded as a ‘City of Literature’ with the help of UNESCO. It is among the six places that the KILA plans to develop as ‘Creative Cities’. Thiruvananthapuram is vying for the title ‘City of Peace’, Kollam ‘City of Biodiversity’, Kochi ‘City of Design’, Thrissur ‘City of Learning’, and Kannur ‘City of Craft and Folk Arts’.
Joy Elamon, Director General, KILA, told The Hindu that the branding would help Kozhikode get a global reach. Innovative literary events could be organised here showcasing writers from foreign countries. “The credentials for this are being readied now so that the proposal can be submitted in 2023,” he said.
The Kozhikode Corporation has already started preliminary steps for the purpose. The civic body is preparing the proposal with the help of the University of Prague in the Czech Republic. Prague got the tag in 2014. Mayor Beena Philip and Deputy Mayor C.P. Musafar Ahammed recently had an online interaction with some officials there.
Ludmila Kolouchova, a research student from the university, is now in town to collect information about the literary traditions of Kozhikode. She attended one of the sessions of the corporation council last week and met the corporation authorities. Ms. Kolouchova said she would visit schools and colleges in the city. “A comparative study between Kozhikode and Prague is being done to help this city get the tag of City of Literature. My efforts will serve as an inspiration,” she said. Ms. Kolouchova will be here till May.
According to an official website on Prague, a city designated as ‘Creative City of Literature’ must have a sufficient number of institutions taking care of its literary life. “The city should have the ability and experience to organise different kinds of literary events, and an appropriate level of literary education should be provided along with quality, quantity and diversity of literary activities,” said the website.