Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature activities

Literature continues to be a vibrant part of Dunedin life. Here’s a taste of what’s been happening in the UNESCO City of Literature lately, and a preview of the year ahead.

Poems in the Waiting Room

The Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) project, based in Dunedin, distributes 8000 free poetry cards every season to medical waiting rooms, rest homes, hospices and prisons throughout New Zealand. The three-fold brightly coloured cards usually contain eight poems, including one for children and a haiku. Poets and publishers from Dunedin and the world over, including Bloodaxe Books and Faber & Faber, have generously loaned requested poems for each edition.

poems in waiting room

Lilliput Libraries

PoARTry exhibitions, readings and workshops are just some of the events the Poems in the Waiting Room trustees have held in Dunedin. In 2015, Ruth Arnison initiated the Lilliput Libraries project after seeing a photograph of a little library in a Melbourne suburban street. Adopting a ‘take a book, leave a book’ philosophy, the miniature libraries have been embraced by Dunedin residents and there are now 77 handcrafted and individually painted Lilliput Libraries scattered around the city, with another 12 in progress and an order for 30 more.

lilliput space

Poems on Steps

Ruth Arnison and Sheryl McCammon, aka the Step Sisters, continue to take poetry to the streets with their Poems on Steps project, which involves painting poems and words on many of Dunedin’s steps.


Looking ahead

Literary activities in the year ahead will include Literary Walking Tours run by Beverly Martens, and the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival in May. The National Commission is proud to be supporting an international Creative Cities symposium, to be held in Dunedin later in the year.