Commemorative Reading: March 4, 2015


Washington DC’s 6th annual commemorative reading will be held on March 4th at the Brookland Busboys & Poets. Poetry and prose from the Middle East and North Africa will be read to honor those lost and to continue the struggle for free expression of ideas, worldwide.

WHEN: March 4, 2015, 6:30-9pm

WHERE: Brookland Busboys and Poets625 Monroe Street NE, Washington, DC 20017

Readings by Sarah Browning, Casey Smith, Mousa Al-Nasseri, Robert Obayda, Elliott Colla, Rawan Alferaehy, E. Ethelbert Miller, Zein El-Amine, members of Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team, and others.

Free & Open to the Public.


Poetic and Intellectual Freedom: A Panel Discussion

WHEN:  Tuesday, September 16 @ 4:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Center Plaza, George Mason University.

The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a literary and visual arts project with cultural festivals planned for January-March 2016 at George Mason University and throughout the area. Exhibits, readings, films and numerous interactive public programs will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street. In advance of that project, panelists draw on their own experiences to speak about the value of a free exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Panelists include:  Elliott Colla, author of Baghdad Central and director of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University; Sumaiya Hamdani, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at George Mason University; Sarah Browning, director of Split This Rock; Zein El-Amine of Maryland’s Young Scholars Program and assistant director of the Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House at the University of Maryland; and Mousa Al-Nasseri, a merchant from Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq. The panel will be moderated by Helen Frederick and Terry P. Scott.

For more information on how you can become involved in the al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, DC 2016 project,

Please contact Helen Frederick at:

Goddard College – Book Art Exhibition, July 4 – October 10, 2014

Goddard College Exhibit Cropped

The “al- Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” book art exhibition is now on display at the Eliot D. Pratt Library Art Gallery, Goddard College, 123 Pitkin Rd., Plainfield, VT.

“The impetus for creating this exhibit of book art and poetry was a 2007 car bomb explosion on Al-Mutanabbi Street in the historic bookselling district of Baghdad, Iraq. The bombing was a deliberate attack on the literary and intellectual life of Baghdad, killing over 30 people, wounding more than a hundred.

Al-Mutanabbi Street represents a cultural community that embraces intellectual activities and freedom of religion. Participating artists express their feelings and thoughts in response to the bombing.

This exhibit of astounding art and writings creates awareness, and it may inspire us to take responsible action in the world.”

To view images of this exhibit, click below:

For more information about this event, visit:


      The first of three symposiums for al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here (2014, 2016, 2018) will be held at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on 11/17/2014 – 11/18/2014 at the IUPUI University Library.  If you are in the area please be sure to attend.  For more information about event details, visit:

Indiana Event Postcard FrontIndiana Event Postcard Back

Click here to view some of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Coalition Collection:

Broadside Collection Photo


I am listening
to your disappearance
I go back into the room
and turn the radio down
I have to cover each sentence as I read it

Beau Beausoleil

For more information on how you can become involved in the
al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, DC 2016 project,
please contact Helen Frederick @

“I AM IRAQI, I READ” – Book Festival

“The immense bomb explosion that devastated Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad on March 5, 2007, was not the only direct assault on the freedom of thought, on reading, and on the BOOKs of Al Mutanabbi street. Another campaign, by the Iraqi government, to destroy this book culture of Al Mutanabbi Street and supress booksellers continued last summer of 2012.  Twice, municipality bulldozer demolition teams accompanied by fully armed troops, destroyed the book stalls of Al Mutanabbi Street. On September 17, 2012, came the last attack on the booksellers of Al Mutanabbi Street.

Within twelve days of the last attack, people were able to organize a peaceful book festival event that was held on September 29, 2012, with the title, “I Am Iraqi, I Read.”  Private citizens brought book donations to the festival where people gathered on the green in a peaceful demonstration and a defiant public read-in, to say we will continue reading in public defying the abhorrent official political attempts of organized suppression of freedom of thought, reading, and knowledge in Iraq. We are doing this for our children to enable them to rebuild the future Iraq.

In this book festival, Rawan, a young Baghdadi girl delivered the main speech in which she stressed the importance of reading and education for rebuilding Iraq.”  Salma Abu Ayyash

To view’s Rawan’s amazing speech, click below:

Interested in getting involved with
“Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here” Project – DC – 2016?

If so, please contact Helen Frederick:

“New leaves from fire and ashes” Article by Rebecca Rafferty

Image“Create/Destroy” by artist Martha Hayden of New York.

A recent article, “Al-Mutanabbi Street: Start the Conversation”  New leaves from fire and ashes, by Rebecca Rafferty, is featured in The Rochester City Newspaper.  (June 18, 2014)

“There’s a sense of commonality that I keep trying to get at; that a street like Al-Mutanabbi Street is really a street that appears everywhere,” Beausoleil says. Often, the title of the project’s associated exhibits is “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.” Al-Mutanabbi starts “anywhere there’s a cultural institution, a library, a university, a bookstore. Wherever someone sits down and begins to write toward the truth. Or where someone picks up a book to read,” he says. “Right now, Al-Mutanabbi Street starts in Rochester.”

To view this article, visit

“What Have We Done” by Bill Denham

Bill Denham cropped

What have we done?

To think on the inner workings
of my new made Iraqi friends’ hearts
as news pours in from Mosul,
from Tikrit, and Sammara,
Dhuluiya, Jalawa, and Sadiyah,
from Ishaki and Dujali,
strains the delicate, thin membranes
of my imagination to the point of rupture
and I want to cry out,
No! No! No!
What have we done?
What have we done
to our brothers and our sisters?
What have we done to ourselves?
Oh . . . what have we done?
What have we done?

Yet, still, I lift my eyes,
raise my hands to you
in supplication, my new neighbors.
Allow me, I beg of you,
to hear and to hold your laments,
your anguished outcries
and know that I am one with you
as much as I am able,
at our common alter of grief.
Let us go forward, then, together—
a new light to shine upon the darkness.
Let us go forward—together, now.

BD 6/15/14


A note from Beau Beausoleil:

“Bill Denham is an al-Mutanabbi Street broadside printer who now lives in Portland, Oregon.  Bill was instrumental in putting together the reading that was held in Portland this past March to mark the 7th anniversary of the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street. Bill was able to make some important contacts in the Iraqi refugee community, and the arts community of Portland, both of which contributed towards making the reading a very moving event. Bill really understands the idea of shared personal responsibility when it comes to what has happened it Iraq.  And he understands the human loss that resides between the words of the articles that we are reading on a daily basis.

Bill is also a fine poet, one who addresses grief (and hope) in a straight ahead manner, placing himself (and us) amidst the people that he is addressing.”