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Manifesto of the Poets of Baghdad

November 4, 2013
I have just received, in an e-mail for Beau Beausoleil, this Manifesto. Just as relevant today as the day it was written.

Text of the Manifesto of the Poets of Baghdad. Written and read by the poet Abdul-Zehra Zeki in the name of all the poets of Baghdad. Read aloud in the place where the bombing took place (Al-Mutanabbi Street) less than 24 hours following the crime. It was here at the very place where the car bomb was exploded that Abdul-Zehra Zeki and ten other poets read their poems, and actors presented some performances staged in condemnation of the bombing and the burning of books and bookshops:

 
It is  here amid the debris of the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street,
near the smell arising from the burning treasures of the bookshops of Baghdad,
not far away from the bodies of the loved ones which are still buried under the rubble of the bombing,
that stand today, the poets of bereaved Baghdad;
shocked and startled amid the whistles of the destruction,
and the exhalation of the smoke,
and the floating particles of ashes,
hearing sounds of shooting here and explosions there,
to read their poems for death and life.
No surprise they are the sons of Baghdad who safeguarded its immortality.
It is Baghdad whose body is being snapped by death; whereas, its soul ascends with life and with the hope of extracting an opportunity from between the claws of death.
The poets are the soul of the city with its immeasurable feelings.
 
The poets of Baghdad, just like their great City, stand today looking along the horizon of freedom. But our degradation and slavery are still maintained by this gluttony for murder,
which blocks our broad horizons with the darkness of cellars.
 
We are caught between two powers: the power of hope to which we are holding tight, and the power that is trying hard to force us into the darkness of the deep cellars.
It is the result of this struggle between these two powers that may decide the fate of the City of Baghdad and that of its poets and its people.
 
After all, we have but one option. It is that of going forward supported by the immortal soul of our City and by the power of the will of its people, to live a free, dignified, secure and independent life.
It is our immortal soul and our great will to make the life we deserve and want.
 
We, the poets of Baghdad, look forward confidently to our friends and colleagues in poetry and culture in the Arab and Islamic world, as well as people everywhere, to raise their voices loudly in support of us and of Baghdad; a city which has significance in being the centre of civilization and one of largest cities of enlightenment in history.
 
The poets of Baghdad, who have always shared with humanity its suffering in defense of the values of justice and dignity, are looking forward to hearing the voices of solidarity with them, and with their City, in its ordeal in confronting terrorism and destruction.
These are the obstructions of the realization of the dream of Iraqis…to see a better tomorrow when they can enjoy their freedom, security, and independence.
 
We stand today with the debris from the bombing surrounding us on Al-Mutanabbi Street, at a time when we appreciate very well what this Street signifies for contemporary Arab culture. We also know very well the significance of the Street as far as the terrorists are concerned. This is why they targeted it. There are no police, nor government, nor occupiers here. It is a Street which is populated by books of different sects, books expressive of different ideas and trends, as well as of their sellers and buyers from all over the country.
 
To target Al-Mutanabbi Street is to target the very essence of  Iraqi culture,
which extends beyond any differences.
 
Having said that, all educated people, wherever they might be, should not keep silent.
The voice of humanity should be louder than that of differences, and in favor of a human being’s right to live without fear and threats.
 
Show solidarity with us!
Abdul-Zehra Zeki
Translated into English by Inam Jaber
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