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March 29, 2012

March 5th was the fifth anniversary of the suicide-bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street, the winding street of the booksellers in old Baghdad. It happened to coincide with the monthly meeting of the Fountain Poets in Wells, and I spoke about the anniversary and the bombing, pointing out that our upper room in the Fountain Inn is the equivalent of the Shabandar Cafe where the owner lost his five sons, buried in the rubble. Then I read two poems from my collection “What is a Book?”, which is my response to the bombing. One of the other poets read a lament for Homs. 21 people were present, an unusually high attendance. It was a powerful evening.

Special readings  held in many places around the world included one at UCLA, and there was a ceremony on al-Mutanabbi Street with relatives of those who died as well as survivors of the blast. And, for the first time, thanks to the Iraqi novelist Lutfiya Al-Dulaimi, our project was discussed in an Iraqi newspaper. The Coalition now has 450 members world-wide: printers, writers and book-artists.

On 2nd March I was one of the poets reading at “Voices in the City” a day-long event during Bath Literature Festival. To my delight I received an order for “What is a Book” from one of the other poets.

Here (below) is the last of the commissioned notebooks, an A5 sketckbook covered in a fabric with a woven check pattern that has been overdyed (not by me) , probably in Indigo, with a stitched resist on the diagonal. The result is subtle and complex. I’ve sewn on an elastic band to keep the book closed. It’s a hair-band, 10 for £1 from the Pound Shop!

I’m busy making the invitations for Gabriel and Charlotte’s wedding. As I have cut and placed the pieces by eye they are all slightly different. Here are two of them: front view and back view. The design and colour-scheme were inspired by Indian marigold-garlands and Tibetan Thangkas. The font is Rockwell Condensed, Char’s favourite!

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