San Jose, California Link to original article:. On March 5th 2007, a car bomb exploded in the book sellers district, Al-Mutanabbi Street, in Baghdad. It lingers with me still. Through the serial deployment of the stylistic device of anadiplosis, i. After the reading, I introduced myself to Beausoleil, and like many others, I was inspired to participate in what would later be called the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition. I could taste the smell of burning hair and flesh on my tongue.
It will also be required reading for anyone interested in social justice. Her books include All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song, 2008 Many Mountains Moving Book Prize and God, Seed 2010 Foreword Book of the Year Award , and two chapbooks Robert Phillips Prizes in 2008 and 2009. When I opened the box nearly six months later and found the most beautiful and visual representation of my poem, which had become a homage to the incalculable loss of life—with hatch marks embossed on the paper—I was moved to tears. Beausoleil and Shehabi have put together a book that will be adored by lovers of poetry, essays, journalism, and testimony. Significantly, though, some of the most powerful work in the anthology is by new or relatively unknown writers. We were all on Al-Mutanabbi Street at that moment. First published in Crab Orchard Review, then in Thirteen Departures from the Moon Press 53 2011 and reprinted here with permission of the press.
Born in Oklahoma City in 1968, Shadid died on February 16, 2012, while covering the current Syrian revolution. After several comments, a young Arab man stood up without raising his hand and began to speak in a shaky voice, thick with an Arab accent. The editors include eyewitness accounts and stories by people who frequented Al-Mutanabbi Street but were not there on the day of the explosion. It is a project that asks something of its viewer. Although the loss of life was in itself devastating, the symbolism of the street was not lost on Iraqis. I bought it for him. Along with other journalists including the late Anthony Shadid, he bore stunning witness to the toll of war on the people of Iraq.
Those who would take away the rights and dignity of a people with the very same words that guarantee them. His essay is a heartfelt story of Mohammed Hayawi, an Iraqi bookseller who died on Al-Mutanabbi Street and whom he knew while he was the Baghdad bureau chief of the newspaper. Beau Beausoleil and Deema Shehabi, eds. Recent poems are in Hudson Review, Massachusetts Review, Sewanee Review, Southern Indiana Review, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere and fiction, essays and book reviews are in American Book Review, Chautauqua, The Rumpus, Poetry Flash, Tikkun Daily and other journals. So tell me what you think of when the sky is ashen? Al-Mutanabbi Street, the historic centre of Baghdad bookselling, holds bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and even tea and tobacco shops.
Part of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here touring project On March 5th 2007, a car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. Beau Beausoleil and Deema Shehabi, eds. The desire to incorporate work by people—not necessarily writers—whose lives were directly impacted by the explosion poses a particular challenge, one that is handled well here. These books will show the commonality of al-Mutanabbi Street with any street, anywhere that holds a bookstore or cultural institution, and that this attack part of a long history of attacking the printed word was an attack on us all. In the dream, my lips were bruised, her body was whole again, and we danced …. She described the painstaking process by which each of the hundred broadsides was printed five separate times to achieve each of the colors, textures, and fonts. She is of heritage; her mother was from and her father from.
Since 2010, cities in Europe—London and Dublin—have also hosted readings, and Amsterdam hosted an exhibit of some of the broadsides. When I called up Hearne to thank her for her beautiful work, for returning my poem to me and making it her own, she told me how working on the broadside had affected her. This is the first time that this project has been discussed in an Iraqi newspaper. The reading I attended in 2007 at the San Francisco Public Library was the first of many memorial readings still held around the country every March in cities like Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D. It is a project that asks something of its viewer. But Beausoleil, a bookseller in San Francisco, saw something else: a targeted attack on artistic and individual freedom everywhere.
Understanding this may also help us understand our own role in helping to create the still open wounds that exist on the cultural and literal body of Iraq. The coalition has moved beyond its early mission to respond to a single, indelibly notorious day of death and destruction, into a cultural initiative that celebrates words, books, ideas, and the way they connect us. Shehabi was one of the authors whose works were reviewed in-depth and was mentioned elsewhere in the issue as masterful in her use of. His al-Mutanabbi street is a metaphor for the creative impulse, and the book is at once a lament for what was lost on the day of the bombing, an affirmation of artistic and human freedom, and a way to locate common ground among people of two nations at war. It was the place that Iraqis frequented during some of the most tense and difficult periods in recent Iraqi history, including the years of the Iran-Iraq War 1980-88 , the long years of U.
As if searching desperately for a meaning? A complete set of 133 broadsides has been donated to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad. It was followed by an anthology which she co-edited in 2012 in response to the bombing of Baghdad's historic literary district and in 2014 a collaboration with another exiled poet of a collection of renga-style poems. Mutanabbi Steet, Baghdad On a pile of bricks, someone had left a pink plastic flower, a pair of glasses, and a book with crisp, white pages. In response, the staff unanimously voted to keep the book on display. The boundary of mother and land dissolved in my mind and became inseparable.