Readings honor those killed in Baghdad book-market bombing

BRATTLEBORO — “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here,” a free presentation of poetry and literature from the countries included in President Donald Trump's recent executive order barring entry to the U.S., read by those who have lived the immigrant/refugee experience, will take place during Gallery Walk on Friday, March 3, from 6 to 7 p.m., at Everyone's Books, 25 Elliot St.

This event is a tribute to all who value free speech, personal freedom, and the power of poetry, literature, and art to reaffirm the dignity and basic human rights of all, according to a news release. It is one of more than 30 events worldwide commemorating the March 5, 2007, car bombing of Baghdad's al-Mutanabbi Street, a mixed Shia-Sunni neighborhood and the historic center of Baghdad's booksellers.

At least 30 people were killed and 100 wounded in the attack. No one has ever claimed responsibility.

Al-Mutanabbi Street has been described as Baghdad's “third lung, where the educated and students breathe.” Named after a 10th-century classical Iraqi poet, the street has been a refuge for writers of all faiths for centuries. It held bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and tea and tobacco shops.

Today, the street is recovering, but many Iraqi writers, scattered into exile, haven't returned. According to the news release, “It is said that wherever someone sits down to write towards the truth, or sits down with a book, that's where al-Mutanabbi Street starts.”

For more information, contact Kate Casa at 916-396-0036 or [email protected].

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