Mutanabbi Street is a celebrated part of Baghdad named for the 10th century Iraqi poet. It is filled with bookstores and cafes where people have gathered for centuries to exchange knowledge and ideas, and has been dubbed the heart and soul of Baghdad’s literary community.
But 10 years ago, on March 5, 2007, 26 people were killed when a car bomb exploded – destroying lives, businesses, and the vibrancy of this intellectual meeting place. Since then, the street has reopened, but the lives that were changed that day remain changed forever.
On this edition of Iraq Matters, we are pleased to welcome Moussa al-Naseri, a Baghdad native who sold stationary on Mutanabbi Street for many years and survived the 2007 bombing. Moussa is now a U.S. citizen. Joining him is Sarah Browning, co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock, a national nonprofit of poets, artists, and activists who encourage the use of art to advocate for peace.
Referenced in this podcast:
- Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here (Facebook)
- Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Anthology (PM Press)
- Split This Rock
Current list of commemorative reading events in February and March 2017:
- In San Francisco, California on March 4th – The poet Tamsin Smith will coordinate a reading with poets and writers at her home.
- 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.
- In Washington, D.C. on March 4th at 4pm – The poet/educator Casey Smith will coordinate a reading at Petworth Citizen, 829 Upshur Street NW.
- In Bristol, U.K. on March 4th starting at 12:30pm – 1st floor, The Island gallery space, Nelson Street – The artist/educator/activist Sarah Bodman will coordinate a reading
- In Sydney, Australia on March 5th at 2pm – The artist/activist Catherine Cartwright and the arts organization Modelab are organizing a reading – performance art event for al-Mutanabbi Street at Yaranabbe Park in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.
- In Steamboat Springs, Colorado on March 5th – The artist/activist Janet Bradley will coordinate a reading.
- 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
- In London, U.K. on Thursday March 2nd from 6:30-8pm – A Literary Salon for Al-Mutanabbi Street at the Arab British Centre, 1 Gough Square, London.
- In Tucson, Arizona on March 5th – The artist/educator/filmmaker/curator Ozlem Ozgur will coordinate a reading
- In Berlin, Germany on March 5th – The printer/educator/activist Andrew Morrison will coordinate a reading with students from the U.K.
- In Newcastle, U.K. on March 5th – The artist/activist Theresa Easton will coordinate a reading
- In Dearborn, Michigan on March 5th – Poet/activists Dunya Mikhail and Alise Alousi will coordinate a reading at The Arab American National Museum (in their library).
- In Baghdad, Iraq on March 5th – At the historic Shabandar Cafe on al-Mutanabbi street – coordinated by the poet/activist Amal Al-Jabouri and her Soutuna project.
- In Dubai, U.A.E. on March 5th – Hend Saeed will coordinate a reading at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. This reading will be in Arabic and English.
- In Vancouver, Canada on March 5th – Journalist/author Hadani Dimars will coordinate a reading.
- In Berkeley, California on March 8th – Writer/activist Summer Brenner and the poet/writer/activist Owen Hill will coordinate a reading at Moe’s Books.
- In San Francisco, California on March 5th – The poet/activist Beau Beausoleil and the educator/artist/activist Andrea Hassiba will coordinate a reading at The Great Overland Book Company from 3:30 – 5pm.
- In Palo Alto, California on March 5th – Artists/activists Nanette Wylde, Servane Briand and Paloma Lucas will coordinate a reading at Cubberly Studios from 4-6pm.
- In Milwaukie, Oregon on March 4th – Baher Butti and Muwafaq Qatan will coordinate a reading at the Pond House at 2pm, sponsored by the Milwaukie Poetry Series of the Ledding Library.
- In Portland, Oregon on March 5th – Baher Butti and Muwafaq Qatan will coordinate a reading at the Central Library (downtown Portland) at 2pm followed by an Iraqi commemorative celebration sponsored by the Iraqi Society of Oregon and the Iraqi Student Club at Portland State University.
- In Los Angeles, California on March 5th – The Markaz Arts Center for the Greater Middle East will coordinate a reading with 10 poets and writers at Chevalier’s Books, 120 North Larchmont Boulevard cosponsored by the Los Angeles Review of Books.
- In Oakland, California, on March 23rd – The writer/activist Joe Lamb will coordinate a reading at the Octopus Literary Salon, at 2101 Webster Street at 7pm.
- In Paris, France, on March 5th – Academic/activist Adina Rulu will coordinate a reading, location TBA.
- In Santa Fe, New Mexico on March 31st – Musician/composer/academic/activist Melanie Monsour will coordinate a public performance of a musical piece, Words in the Wind (for al-Mutanabbi Street) at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, O’Shaughnessy Performance Space in Benildus Hall.
- In Fairfax, Virginia on February 7th – Nahid and Nasrin Navab will coordinate a reading at the Fenwick Gallery, part of the Fenwick Library at George Mason University as part of their gallery exhibit, Flying Words.
- In San Francisco on March 6th – Bookstore owner and activist Eric Whittington will coordinate a reading at Bird & Beckett Bookstore, 7-9pm.
- In Venice, Italy, on March 3rd – Artist/activist Roberta Feoli will coordinate a reading at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia.
- In Brattleboro, Vermont, on March 3rd – Activist Kate Casa will coordinate a reading at Everyone’s Books, 25 Elliot Street.
- In Waitsfield, Vermont – Artist/activist Cecilia Bucca will coordinate a reading on March 5th at “a big family house.”
- In Buffalo, New York on March 15th – Artist/activist Donna Stepien will coordinate a reading at Talking Leaves Books, starting at 7pm.
- In Warren, Michigan on February 24th – The Mesopotamian Forum for Art and Culture will coordinate a reading at Ryan Palace, 4300 E. 14 Mile Road at 7pm. This reading will be entirely in Arabic.
- In Boston, Massachusetts, on March 5th – Artist/educator/activist Ronni Komarow will coordinate a reading at Artheads Studio, 29 Leicester Street, Brighton Center, from 3-5pm as part of the “Art for a Change” art and activism project.
- In Boise, Idaho, on March 6th – The Boise State University Student Union will coordinate a reading and digital exhibition from 7-9pm in collaboration with the University Art Curator and local arts and poetry organizations.
- In Amherst, Massachusetts, on March 6th, Hampshire College librarians Bonnie Vigeland and Jennifer King will coordinate a reading at Hampshire College Library Gallery, at 4pm.
- In London, on March 24th – The Iraqi Society at SOAS University of London will coordinate a reading from 5-7pm at SOAS. This reading will be in Arabic and English.