Ninth Annual Commemorative Reading

Ninth Annual Commemorative Reading
Saturday March 5th, 2016 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium
Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery
8th and G Streets, NW, Washington, DC

Free and open to the public. Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP or contact 202.633.2241.

For access services please contact or 202.633.2241, preferably two weeks prior to the program.

Distinguished Iraqi poets Amal Al-Jubouri and Dunya Mikhail and Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project founder and coordinator Beau Beausoleil, along with musicians Michael Pestel and Philemon AbdEllah Kirlles will commemorate the March 5, 2007 bombing of Baghdad's historic book selling street. A book signing will follow the reading. 

A native of Iraq, Amal Al-Jubouri published her first poetry collection, Wine from Wounds, at 19. Fiercely independent, Amal’s poems critically reflect social and political life in the Arab world. This independence has won her numerous awards, including Library Journal’s Best Books of 2011 for Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation. A firm believer in using art to drive change, Amal served as Yemen’s Cultural Consular (Berlin, 2000-2011) and founded Diwan, the German-Arab poetry magazine, in 2001. She is now the Director of the Arab Human Rights Academy and CEO of, promoting human rights across the Arab world.

Dunya Mikhail was born in Iraq in 1965 and was forced to flee in the wake of the first Gulf War when her writings attracted the attention of Saddam Hussein’s government. She is the author of The Iraqi Nights (New Directions, 2014); The War Works Hard (New Directions, 2005), shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and named one of “Twenty-Five Books to Remember from 2005” by the New York Public Library; and Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, 2009) which won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. Her honors also include the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing (2001) and Kresge Artist Fellowship (2013).Beau Beausoleil is the founder of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here Coalition. He is a San Francisco poet and bookseller. Beau Beausoleil will respond to exhibits and lead conversations about the free exchange of ideas, solidarity with the people of Iraq, and describe how social activism can create change.

This event is part of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016. Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is a book arts and cultural festival organized for January through March 2016, throughout the Washington, DC area. Exhibits, programs, and events will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street, and celebrate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, to stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq, who have endured so much; and with people at home and abroad who are unable to make their voices heard. Book sellers, who survived the bombing, rebuilt their stores and are once again in business. They sell works by Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Jews, children's books, and progressive publications from around the world.

The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project began as a call from San Francisco poet Beau Beausoleil in 2007 for writers, and it quickly moved on to incorporate artists, artist books and printmakers all who are responding to bear witness to a tragic loss of a center of literacy and humanity in Iraq. Al-Mutanabbi Street represents a street of booksellers, printers, and readers, a street where people still felt “safe” among all the words and books. This is the project’s starting point: where language, thought, and reality reside; where memory, ideas, and even dreams wait patiently in their black ink.

Project Partners

George Mason University’s
School of Art and George Mason University Libraries, Split This Rock, Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, McLean Project for the Arts, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at The George Washington University, Busboys and Poets, Georgetown University, Cultural DC, Smithsonian Libraries, Brentwood Arts Exchange, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason University Student Media and Fourth Estate Newspaper.


Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 is made possible in part by grants from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Additional support received from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at George Mason University. Busboys and Poets and The Bozzuto Group are also 
major sponsors.

Image: Anita Klein “Reading Under the Covers”