Zaira Ahmed Zaka
Zaira Ahmed Zaka

You may have arrived here because you’ve found a bookmark with the words “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here”. Or because, like the journalist in this story, you were given one. Welcome to the informal community of writers and artists that is the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition. Wherever you are, in your home, in your reading group, in your local cultural centre, library or book-store, wherever literature and ideas are valued, Al-Mutanabbi Street starts there.

To find out what the bookmark project is about, have a look at the “About” page. To see other bookmarks, click on “Bookmarks” and browse the various artists’ creations. If you’d like to make and contribute some bookmarks yourself, the “Guidelines” page is the place to start.

Finally, here are some useful links to the other branches of this project: broadsides, artists’ books, printmakers, music, readings and exhibitions.


Artists’ Book Project (An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street – Click into a gallery and then onto any book image to see more views of the book and read the artist’s statement.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadsides – http://www.library.fau.edu/depts/spc/jaffecenter/collection/al-mutanabbi/index.php

In the spring of 2016 we had an 11 venue exhibit in the Washington D.C. area  – http://www.amsshdc2016.org/

2014 reading at the Arab British Centre in London – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBVmLKd9jIU

Review of our anthology in Jadaliyya, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here  http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/12368/al-mutanabbi-street-starts-here

A musical piece that was composed for the project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3x8juVd14g

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter – Martin Luther King Jr.

John Packer
John Packer

A reading in Bristol, UK

I had the privilege of participating in a lunch-time reading at the University of the West of England on Thursday 8th March. This included a tabletop exhibition of books, broadsides and prints made for the project. It was good to see old friends (both people and printed works), and to meet new ones. Julie Bruck’s poem always makes me shed a tear.

Julie Bruck poem

Books on the table

11th Anniversary Readings 2018

11th Anniversary Readings For Al-Mutanabbi Street, On Or About March 5th 2018    (Details will be added as I receive them)

Our project, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, extends a hand in friendship and solidarity to the Iraqi people who have endured so much. We are poets, writers, and artists who will never turn our back on Iraq and their cultural communities. We are 600 cultural arts workers from 20 countries who hold the spirit and values of al-Mutanabbi Street close to our hearts.

We dedicate our readings this year to Mohammed al-Khashali, the owner of the Shabandar Cafe on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq. He is a man of great compassion and knowledge, a man who has used his own personal grief to nurture the ideas of truth and reconciliation, of forgiving but never forgetting.

It is a great honor to have one of our readings for al-Mutanabbi Street at his cafe this year.

And a great honor to work with our good friend, the Iraqi poet/activist, Amal Al-Jubouri, the Director of the Soutuna Project, who has brought the ideas of this project back to the country and people that inspired it; Iraq and its cultural communities.


No one can ever deny that we are sisters and brothers in this effort.

In Solidarity,


1.  In Baghdad, Iraq  – At the historic Shabandar Cafe on Al-Mutanabbi street – Coordinated by the poet/activist Amal Al-Jubouri and her Soutuna project

2.  In Mosul, Iraq – Coordinated by the poet/activist Amal Al-Jubouri and her Soutuna project

3.  In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, (USA) – The Artist/Activist Janet Bradley Will Coordinate an evening of poetry and film on Monday March 5th at the Bud Werner Memorial Library at 6.30pm.

4. A Reading for Al-Mutanabbi Street, Sunday, March 5th 2018 at 7pm at Best Video Film and Cultural Center 1842 Whitney Ave. Hamden, Connecticut, 06517. On the anniversary of the 2007 bombing of the booksellers’ market in Baghdad, and in defiance of the ongoing attacks throughout the world against reading and readers, excerpts from the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here will be read by Daisy Abreu and Stephen Vincent Kobasa.

5.  In San Francisco, California (USA)- Two readings on March 5th: one at Bird & Beckett Bookstore, 7-9pm, coordinated by Eric Whittington, bookstore owner and activist. The other will be from 6-8pm at the Fort Mason Chapel in conjunction with the Sanctuary exhibit there. Thanks go to Jackie Von Traskow, director of the For-Site Foundation, for making this possible. The poets  Tamsim Smith and Gary Gach will also be part of this reading.

6.  In Bristol, UK – At UWE, Bristol artist/educator/activist Sarah Bodman and artist/activist Catherine Cartwright will coordinate a reading event, 12.30 on 8th March at  Portakabin 1, Bower Ashton campus. See poster below.

7.  In Beaverton, Oregon – At the Beaverton City Library – Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here! A bilingual poetry reading organized by Baher Butti and Tom Hogan

8.   In Portland, Oregon (USA) –  Coordinated by Baher Butti and Tom Hogan

9.   In Dearborn, Michigan (USA), a reading on March 18 at the Arab American National Museum presented by The Mesopotamian Forum for Art and Culture. This reading will be in Arabic and English and is co-ordinated by Dunya Mikhail and Alise Alousi.

10. In Craigieburn, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, at the Averroes Center of Arab Culture, a reading coordinated by the writer/activist Yousef Alreemawi

11. In Dublin, Ireland – At Books Upstairs, the famous independent literary bookshop. Sunday March 4th at 3pm. Co-ordinated by writers Evelyn Conlon and Sean O’Reilly.
See poster below.

12. In St-Jerome, Quebec (Canada) on March 21st 12=2pm. Coordinated by the Educator/Activist Elyse Dupras. See poster below.

13. In San Francisco, California (USA) – A reading at the Sanctuary Exhibit in the Fort Mason Chapel, coordinated by the FOR-SITE Foundation, a non-profit public art organization dedicated to the creation, understanding, and presentation of art about place.

14. In Venice, Italy, a reading at Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia, coordinated by Roberta Feoli Artist/Activist and Printshop and studio manager at Scuola.

15. A reading at the University of Gloucestershire (U.K.). 4.15pm. Tuesday 6 March at The Drawing Studio, FCH Campus, HC302, Cheltenham GL50 4AZ. Coordinated by the printer/educator/activist Andrew Morrison. See poster below.

16. In Cairo, Egypt – Monday March 5th at 1pm. A reading at The American University in Cairo (AUC) coordinated by the educator, Philip Croom and Heba Sheta. See poster below.

17. A reading in New York City, on April 4th, with Arab American writers at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

18. In Tacoma, Washington (USA) The group Puget Sound Book Artists is doing a Salon at Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound – March 4, 2018 on Artists Books and Social Justice including Poetry from our anthology Al-Mutanabhi Street Starts Here.’

19, In Washington, D.C. – A reading coordinated by artists, poets, and educators – Casey Smith, Helen Frederick, and Nikki Brugnoli at Upshur Street Books

20.  A reading in Tikrit, Iraq  will be held by its youth group: Tikrit Voluntary Youth Council, in cooperation with the poet/activist Amal Al-Jubouri and her Soutuna project

21.   In Fairfax, Virginia -ARTISTS & POETS -Freedom of Expression – Freedom of the Press In solidarity with “ Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here!”February 25th – April1st 2018, Epicure Cafe, 11104 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA 22030. Organized by the artist/activist, Nasrin Navab. Reading and Reception Saturday March 17 2018 4-6 pm

22.  In Paris, France, Tuesday 6th March at 7pm – A reading organized by the writer/activist Adina Rulu. See poster below.

23. In Palo Alto, California – A reading organized by the poet/activist, Esther Kamkar.

24.  In Northampton, Massachusetts – A reading at Broadside Bookshop, Inc. 247 Main Street, on Tuesday March 6, – Organized by the writer/activist, Claudia Lefko. See poster below.

25. At Ashoka University, just outside New Delhi, India. Organized by the writer/educator/activist, Aditi Sriram.

  1. In Al-Amarah, Iraq – A reading coordinated by the Tabani (empowering) group for youth in Misan Governorate in the south of Iraq the city of the world heritage (The Iraqi marshes.)
  2. In Al-Najaaf, Iraq – A reading organized by the Moja Youth team.
  3. In Kirkuk, Iraq – A reading is being organized by the National Foundation for Diversity, through the efforts of Dr. Ahmed Hussien Ali Kataw, the chairperson of this NGO.

Beau writes, 5th March 2018:

The poet/activist, Amal Al-Jubouri has written me that four more cities in Iraq have joined us with readings: Babel (near the archeological site), in Falluja, in Al-Ramadi, and in Heat (Anbar) coordinated by the youth group Shaqoufyan.






Paris Reading 2018