"I watched the entire street turn hot and black with smoke and then, after a few minutes, stared up at the hole in the roof and saw thousands of small gray ashes—pieces of paper, books, newspapers—floating down from the sky."
December 29, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a project initiated by San Francisco bookseller and poet Beau Beausoleil that began as a response to the 2007 bombing [previously on MeFi] of the Baghdad bookselling center Al-Mutanabbi Street. After the attack the authorities made an effort to revive the area but recently the government has begun to make life difficult for the booksellers and intends to turn the street into an animal market. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project consists of book art created by 260 artists and authors from all over the world, but also includes essays, exhibitions and readings, some of which have been put online as videos. You can see a lot of artists' books online at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts and the Centre for Fine Print Research (1, 2, 3). The history of the project was told in a recent essay in World Literature Today by Persis M. Karim.
posted by Kattullus (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Arabic script is so beautiful, but almost all of the posters and other items I could find in the links were in English. Have I missed the ones in Arabic?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:05 PM on December 29, 2012

(And I guess I feel bad now, complaining about aesthetics when people are actually suffering.)
posted by benito.strauss at 3:07 PM on December 29, 2012

Most of the items from the project are made by non-Arabic artists and authors, but if you go into the online galleries you'll find a few that use Arabic writing, such as this one and this one.
posted by Kattullus at 3:19 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this post! I was excited to see it here. I had the pleasure of visiting Beau's bookstore in SF two years ago and talking to him about the project a bit. A few of the collaborators in the Al-Mutanabbi project also recently participated in a similar broadsheet project here in Miami called the SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration. (If anyone's curious, there's some info here: http://www.mdc.edu/main/news/articles/2012/10/mdcs_galleries_of_art_design_presents_th.aspx. Disclosure: I was one of the poets in the SWEAT project.)

Thanks again for these links. I'm going to pass this post along to a few others who will be glad to see it.
posted by 6and12 at 7:27 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I tried to help connect Beau with a few small presses, some of which balked at the expense that come with publishing an art book. As the post says, Al-Mutanabbi Street is the street in Baghdad with all the cafes where the writers hang out and was bombed by the US attacks. If this sounds interesting, you should get the book!
posted by johnasdf at 9:33 AM on December 30, 2012

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