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Al-Mutanabbi Street: Poetry and Art from Tragedy

An exhibition and reading to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the bombing of the historic heart of Baghdad’s intellectual and literary community.

Monday, March 05, 2012
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Powell Library Building Rotunda

In March of 2007 a massive car bomb was detonated on Baghdad’s al-Mutanabbi Street. Overall, 30 people were killed and 100 were injured. The bomb targeted the historic heart of Baghdad’s intellectual and literary community. Named for a famed 10th century classical Arab poet and known as “the street of booksellers,” al-Mutanabbi Street is a legendary locale in Baghdad, a winding lane filled with bookstores, outdoor book stalls, small presses, and cafes where books have been sold, made, and discussed for centuries.

On Monday, March 5, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, in partnership with the UCLA Library and the Dean of Humanities Fund, offers a moving double tribute to both the al-Mutanabbi Street incident and the significance of the book in world culture.  The evening begins at 7 p.m. with a walking tour of an exhibit featuring collaborative broadsides and artists’ books by global letterpress artists and writers who created their pieces in response to the al-Mutanabbi Street bombing.  The tour will be led by Beau Beausoleil, the force behind the broadside exhibit. At 8 p.m., a companion reading of work inspired by the al-Mutanabbi Street event will take place in the Powell Library Building's East Rotunda.  Featured writers will include Dima Hilal, Jen Hofer, Elline Lipkin, Afaf Nash, Jim Natal, Aram Saroyan, Janet Sternburg, and Sholeh Wolpé. The evening's events are free and open to the public.

In conjunction with the reading and art show, the Powell Library will be showing a short film, A Candle for the Shabander Café, on a private viewing station. The documentary is about the Shabandar Cafe, an important Baghdad literary cafe located on al-Mutanabbi street that was gutted in the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi street. The film was directed by Emad Ali of the Baghdad Film School in 2007. He becomes part of his own documentary after he is shot during a kidnapping attempt. The film will be shown on a continuous basis for the duration of the broadside exhibit.

The exhibit will be on display through April 30.


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA Library, Dean of Humanities Fund

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