Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a group of artists, writers and poets. Named after the 10th century classical Arab poet, Al-Mutanabbi Street is at the heart of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community. On March 5, 2007, a car bomb was detonated on the street. At least 30 people were killed and 100 were wounded. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition was formed soon afterwards, in response to not just the tragic loss of life, but also to the idea of a targeted attack on a street where ideas have always been exchanged. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition was founded by San Francisco poet and bookseller Beau Beausoleil.

The first call out was to 130 print and letter press artists to create broadsides. You can see the complete collection of 130 broadsides here which have been touring in exhibitions across the globe. The second call out was to artists to create book art. The intention is to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street. The theme is to create work that holds both “memory and future,” exactly what was lost that day. See here for the catalogue of the artist books.

There is an anthology of poetry and writing by Eastern and Western writers available from PM Press: Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5th, 2007, Bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of the Booksellers” also stocked at Exeter Central Library.