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

March 2, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - March 8, 2016 @ 6:30 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 March events.


March 2

7:00 PM- 9:00 PM: The Life of a Poet: Conversations with Ron Charles 
Hill Center, Old Naval Hospital  (921 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC)
Cosponsered by the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, the Library of Congress, and The Washington Post, and underwritten by National Capital Bank

  • In-depth discussions with poet Dunya Mikhail, moderated by Ron Charles, The Washington Post editor of Book World

Please register for this event on the Hill Center’s website.

March 4

12:00  PM – 1:30 PM: We Cross Borders Lightly: A Public Conversation
Corcoran Auditorium, Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at The George Washington University (500 17th Street NW, Washington DC)

  • Iraqi Poet Dunya Mikhail and translator Kareem James Abu-Zeid will hold a public conversation on the translation of Mikhail’s The Iraqi Nights

March 4

6:00 PM – 8:30 PM: A Picture of the World With You Inside
Smith Center for Healing and the Arts Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery (1632 U Street NW, Washington DC)

  • Artist Spencer Dormitzer will talk about the process of responding to Dunya Mikhail’s poem, moderated by Split This Rock executive director Sarah Browning

March 5

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM: “Faithful” Translation: An Interactive Workshop
Smith Center for Healing and the Arts Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery (1632 U Street NW, Washington DC)

  • With a single Arabic poem as their starting point, each participant will produce their own English translation. No prior knowledge of Arabic is necessary.

Tickets cost $20 and preregistration is required. Please register for this event on Split This Rock’s website.

March 5

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Commemorative Reading
Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery McEvoy Auditorium (8th and F Streets NW, Washington DC)

  • Iraqi poets Amal Al-Jubouri and Dunya Mikhail and project founder Beau Beausoleil will commemorate the March 5, 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic book selling street. Book signings to follow.

Please register for this event on Smithsonian Libraries’s website.

March 7

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM: The Role of Artists in Iraq Today: A Public Conversation
Busboys and Poets (Takoma 235 Carroll Street NW, Washington DC)

  • Artist-activists Amal Al-Jubouri and Andy Shallal reflect on their relationship to Iraq, their art and poetry, and the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion on Iraq.

March 8

6:30 PM: Film Screening: Forgive But Never Forget: Reconciliation in Al-Mutanabbi Street
Brentwood Arts Exchange at Gateway Arts Center (6600 Kenilworth Avenue, Riverdale, MD)

  • Followed by a discussion with poet Amal Al-Jubouri about the film and the literary culture represented by Al-Mutanabbi Street.

Please visit the Al-Mutanabbi Street 2016 event page for more information.


March 2, 2016 @ 7:00 pm
March 8, 2016 @ 6:30 pm
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Netfa Freeman, IPS


Various venues listed
Washington, DC United States + Google Map
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