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Remembering Al-Mutanabbi Street

March 5, 2022

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the bombing of the booksellers’ street in Baghdad on 5th March 2007. I was not able to be at the reading/badgemaking event on Thursday at Bower Ashton campus, organised by Sarah Bodman and Angie Butler, but thanks to Sarah I was able to Zoom in and sit for an hour on a book trolley. I read the poem below (from”Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq”); the city is Baghdad, but it could be anywhere. The threat of bombardment never goes away entirely. A ceasefire may last 20 years but is not the same as peace. I made a quick collage at home while those present in person made badges on the theme of Reparation and Repair.

Later that day, at a Fire River Poets zoom meeting, I read this poem from my handmade book “What is a Book?” It is one of eight poems I wrote as a result of hearing Dr Saad Eskander’s harrowing eye-witness account of the event.

The guest poet on this occasion was Katie Griffiths, whose new collection “The Attitudes” I recommend wholeheartedly. Her use of language is fresh, accurate, surprising, satisfying. And she reads her work beautifully. It was a wonderful evening. Thanks to Graeme Ryan and Annie Fisher for keeping their group going on Zoom during the past two years, and for their warm welcome to incomers like me.

Update! Today the postman brought me a badge from Sarah.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2022 6:02 pm

    Two equally excellent poems. Thanks.

  2. March 6, 2022 10:44 pm

    Thank you, Dave. That means a lot to me!

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