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Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Book Arts and Cultural Festival, February 2016 Events

February 11, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - February 29, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

al-mutanabbi street

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is a book arts and cultural festival organized for January through March 2016, throughout the Washington, DC area. Exhibits, programs, and events will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street. Al-Mutanabbi street was a winding road, about one thousand feet long, noted for its many bookstores and outdoor bookstalls where people gathered in a great humanitarian center. The explosion took the lives of thirty people and destroyed a large portion of the neighborhood. The book sellers who survived
the 2007 bombing have rebuilt their stores and are once again in business. They sell works by Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Jews, children’s books, and progressive publications from around the world.

The festival celebrates the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, demonstrates solidarity with the people of Iraq who have endured so much, as well as with people at home and abroad who are unable to make their voices heard. Please see below a list of February events.


February 11

7:00 PM: A Night of Poetry and Storytelling
McLean Project for the Arts (1234 Ingleside Ave, McLean, VA)

  • Reading by Safia Elhillo, Sudanese-American poet and winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets
  • Artists Nasrin and Nahid Navab will talk about their exhibit Hushed Revolt.

February 21

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Sunday Kind of Love
Busboys and Poets (14th & V, Washington, DC)
Cosponsored by Split This Rock & Busboys and Poets

  • Featured: Hala Alyan and DC-area Arab American poets Love

Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased online on the day of the event on Busboys’ website, or at the door as available.

February 20

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Youth Open Mic with Hala Alyan
Busboys and Poets, (5th & K, Washington DC)
Cosponsored by Split This Rock & Busboys and Poets

February 24

8:00 PM: Reflections on Promised Land
Mosaic Theater Company of DC (1333 H St NE, Washington, DC)
Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival

  • Safia Elhillo will respond to “Promised Land,” a play about Sudanese refugees in Israel by Shahar Pinkhas and Shay Pitovsky

Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased online on the day of the event on Busboys’ website.

February 29

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Witness and Memory
Lauinger Memorial Library, Georgetown University (37th & O Streets NW, Washington, DC)

  • Poetry reading by Safia Elhillo, with introductory remarks by Beau Beausoleil


Please visit the event page for more information.


February 11, 2016 @ 7:00 pm
February 29, 2016 @ 9:00 pm
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Netfa Freeman, IPS


Various venues listed
Washington, DC United States + Google Map
View Venue Website