Next month will mark the tenth anniversary of the bombing of Baghdad’s al-Mutanabbi Street, the city’s historic bookselling corridor. The “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” movement has organized more than 30 readings on or about March 5, 2017:
When Beau Beausoleil, a Bay Area bookseller and poet, heard about the 2007 bombing that killed at least 30 and wounded many more, including many book-street regulars, he felt the connection immediately and viscerally.
Soon after, the “Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” movement was born: a movement of poets, booksellers, book artists, translators, academics, and readers. It has spawned a collection of poetry and prose of the same name, as well as traveling exhibitions of letterpress broadsides, prints, and other works.
The readings this year, he said, are as always a moment of solidarity with Iraqi people and their artists and writers, reminding us of what they face. “But I also see them now as a moment of solidarity for members of this project,” Beausoleil said, “where we can take stock of our own strength as writers and artists in the face of our own homegrown incipient fascism. Al-Mutanabbi Street holds the values of this project: free speech, the free exchange of ideas, and the equality that poetry, writing, and art inherently promise.”
How long can we remember?
“Personal memory reminds us of who we are and what we have experienced, cultural memory reminds us of who we are collectively and that memory goes back generation after generation until one reaches the creation stories,” Beausoleil said. “Memory is a comfort and a burden, a way to be both inside and outside your body at the same time.”
The current list of readings:
1. In San Francisco, California On March 4th – The Poet Tamsin Smith will Coordinate a Reading with Poets and Writers at her home.
2. In New Haven, Connecticut On March 4th – The Activist/Writer And Art Critic Stephen Kobasa will Coordinate a Reading at 12:30 at the Institute Library.
3. In Washington, D.C. On March 4th at 4pm – The Poet/Educator Casey Smith Will Coordinate A Reading at Petworth Citizen, 829 Upshur St. NW
4. In Bristol, U.K. On March 4th starting at 12:30pm – 1st floor, The Island gallery space, Nelson Street, Bristol, BS1 2LE, UK. – The Artist/Educator/Activist Sarah Bodman Will Coordinate A Reading
5. In Sydney, Australia -The artist/activist Catherine Cartwright and the artist/activist Rodrigo Azaola are organizing a reading – performance art event for al-Mutanabbi Street at Yaranabbe Park in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney Australia for 2pm on Sunday 5th March.
6. In Steamboat Springs, Colorado On March 5th – The Artist/Activist Janet Bradley Will Coordinate A Reading
7. In Saint Jerome, Quebec, Canada On March 1st – The Educator/Activist Elyse Dupras Will Coordinate A Reading At The College Where She Teaches. This reading will be in French, Arabic, and English
8. In London, U.K. On Thursday 2 March 2017 – A Literary Salon for Al-Mutanabbi Street, Time: 18:30 – 20:00 Location: The Arab British Centre1 Gough Square, London,
9. In Tucson, Arizona on March 5th – The Artist/Educator/Filmmaker/Curator Ozlem Ozgur Will Coordinate A Reading
10. In Berlin, Germany on March 5th – The Printer/Educator/Activist Andrew Morrison Will Coordinate A Reading With Students From The U.K.
11. In Newcastle, U.K. on March 5th – The Artist/Activist Theresa Easton Will Coordinate A Reading
12. In Dearborn, Michigan on March 5th – At The Arab American National Museum (In Their Library) Coordinated by the Poet/Activists Dunya Mikhail and Alise Alousi
13. In Baghdad, Iraq on March 5th – At the historic Shabandar Cafe on al-Mutanabbi street – Coordinated by the poet/activist Amal Al-Jubouri and her Soutuna project
14. In Dubai, U.A.E. at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on the 5th of March – Coordinated by Hend Saeed the Arabic program organizer for the festival; ArabLit’s M. Lynx Qualey will give the introduction. This reading will be in Arabic and English.
15. In Washington D.C. to be broadcast on March 5th -Our good friends at EPIC will devote a podcast in their IRAQ MATTERS series that focuses on the 10th anniversary of the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street. Mark Seamen of EPIC will coordinate this reading of poets and writers.
16. In Vancouver, Canada on March 5th – A reading coordinated by the Journalist/Author Hadani Ditmars.
17. in Berkeley, California on March 8th. A reading at Moe’s Books coordinated by the writer/activist Summer Brenner and the poet/writer/activist Owen Hill.
18. In San Francisco, California on March 5th. A reading at The Great Overland Book Company from 3:30 – 5pm, coordinated by the poet/activist Beau Beausoleil and the educator/artist/activist Andrea Hassiba
19, In Palo Alto, California on March 5th. A reading (and possibly a project related workshop) at Cubberly Studios from 4-6 p.m. Coordinated by the artists/activists Nanette Wylde, Servane Briand and Paloma Lucas
20. In Milwaukie, Oregon on March 4th. A reading at the Pond House at 2:00 PM, sponsored by the Milwaukie Poetry Series of the Ledding Library, Coordinated by Baher Butti and Muwafaq Qatan
21. In Portland, Oregon on March 5th – A reading at the Central Library (downtown Portland) at 2:00 PM followed by an Iraqi commemorative celebration sponsored by the Iraqi Society of Oregon and the Iraqi Student Club at Portland State University. Coordinated by Baher Butti and Muwafaq Qatan
22 In Los Angeles, California, on March 5th Coordinated by The Markaz Arts Center for the Greater Middle East a reading with 10 poets and writers at Chevalier’s Books, 120 North Larchmont Blvd, The program is cosponsored by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
23. In Oakland, California, on March 23rd – A reading at the Octopus Literary Salon, at 2101 Webster Street (at 22nd St.) at 7pm. Coordinated by the writer/activist Joe Lamb
24. In Paris, France, on March 5th – A reading organized by the academic/activist Adina Rulu. The location to be announced in the next few weeks.
25. In Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 31st – A public performance of a musical piece, Words in the Wind (for al-Mutanabbi Street) composed by the musician/composer/academic/activist Melanie Monsour. The location will be at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, O’Shaughnessy Performance space in Benildus Hall.
26. In Fairfax, Virginia on February 7th – A reading for al-Mutanabbi Street at the Fenwick Gallery, part of the Fenwick Library at George Mason University. Coordinated by Nahid and Nasrin Navab as part of their gallery exhibit, Flying Words.
27. In San Francisco on March 6th- A reading for al-Mutanabbi Street at Bird & Beckett Bookstore, 7-9pm. Coordinated by Eric Whittington, bookstore owner and activist.
28. In Venice, Italy, a reading at Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia, coordinated by Roberta Feoli Artist/Activist and Printshop and studio manager at Scuola. (date to be announced soon)
29. In Brattleboro, Vermont, on March 3rd, a reading at Everyone’s Books, 25 Elliot Street, coordinated by the activist Kate Casa
30. In Waitsfield, Vermont, a reading on March 5th at “a big family house” coordinated by the artist/activist Cecilia Bucca
31. In Buffalo, New York, a reading on March 15th at Talking Leaves Books, starting at 7pm – coordinated by the artist/activist Donna Stepien
32. In Warren, Michigan, a reading on Friday, February 24th, 7PM at Ryan Palace, 4300 E. 14 Mile Road (Warren Michigan) presented by The Mesopotamian Forum for Art and Culture. This reading will be entirely in Arabic
33. In Boston, Massachusetts, at Artheads Studio,, 29 Leicester St., Brighton Center, a reading for al-Mutanabbi Street on March 5th, 3 till 5pm as part of the “Art for a Change” art and activism project – This reading coordinated by the artist/educator/activist Ronni Komarow
34. In Boise, Idaho, at Boise State University Student Union, a collaboration between the University Art Curator and local arts and poetry organizations, will host a reading and digital exhibition in solidarity with al-Mutanabbi Street on March 6th, 7-9 PM.
35. In Amherst, Massachusetts, at Hampshire College, a reading on March 6th, starting at 4pm in the Hampshire library gallery, coordinated by Bonnie Vigeland and Jennifer King, both librarians at Hampshire College.
36. In London, a reading on Friday, March 24th, 5pm-7pm at SOAS, University of London presented by The SOAS University of London, Iraqi Society. This reading will involve the use of Arabic and English readings