Monday’s Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here remembers Baghdad bookseller bombing | SteamboatToday.com

Monday’s Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here remembers Baghdad bookseller bombing

Ten years ago, a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street, an intellectual center in Baghdad and the location of Iraq's most vibrant bookselling community.

Nearly 30 people died and 100 more were injured, and the community spent the next several months rebuilding the cultural hub.

When news of the March 5, 2007, bombing reached San Francisco bookseller Beau Beausoleil, he responded by creating "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here," an organization and movement to support the Iraqi people and celebrate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge that happens every day in places across the world, including on the now rebuilt Al-Mutannabi Street.

"It's a commemoration and a memory project, to not forget," said Janet Bradley, a Steamboat Springs woman who recently returned to Colorado after spending 16 years in France and the United Kingdom.

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the bombing, Bradley has organized a local Al-Mutannabi Street Starts Here event in Steamboat Springs, which will coincide with events across the world taking place this week.

A presentation by Bradley, poetry readings in many languages and a projected slideshow of impactful art will take place during the event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Library Hall.

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Bradley will share before and after images of Al-Mutanabbi Street, as well as photos of an Al-Mutannabi Street-inspired book art project she participated in.

The project involved 260 artists using books as a medium to create art, including by taking the books apart, firing burning them, suspending them in air or by gold leafing each page and projecting images onto it.

"You're looking at the book as an object of art," Bradley said.

One of Bradley's colleagues burned a book in a kiln, then put it under glass, where it remained as fragile, white remnants of the book it once was.

Each participating artist produced three of each of their pieces of book art, creating three 260-book sets, two of which are traveling to different exhibits and a third, which will eventually be on display on Al-Mutanabbi Street.

Bradley said the project has proven to have an impact on those who see it.

“Not everyone connects with arts, but so many more people connect with books,” she said. “For the most part, books are accessible to everyone and something everyone can get ahold of and have.”

While the book art is not in Steamboat Springs now, Bradley will project images from the project during Monday's event.

As part of the event, local readers will share work in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, French and other languages.

For more information, visit steamboatlibrary.org/events.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

If you go:

What: Al-Mutannabi Street Starts Here

When: 6:30 p.m., March 6

Where: Library Hall, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

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