Poetry Readings: Al-Mutanabbi Street Collective 7pm
The project takes its name from and examines al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, a winding street about one thousand feet long, noted for its many bookstores and outdoor bookstalls where people gathered as a great humanitarian center. Named after the famous classical Arab poet Abu at-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi (915–965 CE), it has been a thriving center of Baghdad’s bookselling and publishing for many years. On March 5, 2007, a bomb went off in the centuries old Al Mutanabbi Street book sellers district in Baghdad. The explosion took the lives of thirty people and destroyed a large portion of the neighborhood. The book sellers, who survived, rebuilt their stores and are once again in business. They sell works by Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Jews, children's books, and progressive publications from around the world.
Through the efforts of Beau Beausoleil, a poet and San Francisco bookseller, a coalition of poets, artists, writers, printers, booksellers, and readers was created within a short time of the bombing; broadsides of their writings and artwork about this tragic event were printed, and recitations were made in many cities. An anthology was published to honor the cultural achievements of a society that has been forever damaged and to acknowledge that art and visual literacy could support the Iraqi population and others where free expression is threatened.
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Anthology; Beau Beausoleil & Deema Shehabi, ed.
The Song Lives On, John Bently, 2011