Mutanabbi Street (Arabic: شارع المتنبي) is located in Baghdad, Iraq, near the old quarter of Baghdad; at Al Rasheed Street. It is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling, a street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. It was named after the 10th-century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi. This street is well established for bookselling and has often been referred to as the heart and soul of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community.
A car bomb exploded and killed 26 people on Mutanabbi Street on March 5, 2007, leaving the area littered and unsafe for shoppers, and destroying many businesses. In response to the bombing, Deema Shehabi and Beau Beausoleil edited an anthology in 2012 called Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here of people’s responses to the bombing. The 100 contributors included Yassin Alsalman and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid, among others.
It became an annual event to read on or about March 5 in dedication to the freedom of expression and the cultivation of culture and education.
12th Anniversary Readings For Al-Mutanabbi Street:
1. In Baghdad, Iraq – A reading organized by the poet/activist, Amal Al-Jubouri.
2. In London, UK – A reading at SOAS University of London (the School of Oriental and African Studies) organized by the Iraqi poet/activist, Amal Al-Jubouri
3. In Wilmington, Delaware, USA – A reading at the Delaware College of Art and Design, organized by the poet/educator, Casey Smith
4. In San Francisco, California , USA – A reading on March 2nd at the home of and organized by the poet Tamsin Smith in her Noe Valley neighborhood.
5. In Hamden, Connecticut, USA – A reading organized by Stephen Kobasa on March 5th, 2019, starting at 7pm, at the Best Video Film and Cultural Center, 1842 Whitney Avenue Hamden, CT. with readings by Daisy C. Abreu and Stephen Vincent Kobasa.
6. In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA – A reading organized by the artist/activist Janet Bradley
7. In Santa Cruz, California, – USA – A reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Monday, March 4th, from 7-9pm. This reading is being organized by the poet/educator David Sullivan
8. In San Francisco, California, USA – A reading at Bird & Beckett Books on Sunday, March 3rd at 7:30pm organized by Eric Whittington, bookseller/activist
9. In Cairo, Egypt – A reading at The American University in Cairo (AUC) coordinated by the educators, Philip Croom and Conchita Anorve.
10. In Cleveland, Ohio – USA – A reading organized by the writer/educator, Hilary M. Plum
11. In Venice, Italy, a reading at Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia, coordinated by Roberta Feoli Artist/Activist and Printshop and studio manager at Scuola.
12. In Gloucestershire County, U.K. – A reading organized by the artist/educator/activist, Andrew Morrison in the Drawing Studios, University of Gloucestershire. On 5th March 2019
13. In Takoma Park, Maryland- USA – A reading at the famous activist cafe, Busboys and Poets, organized by the artists/activists Nasrin Navab, Nahid Navab, and the artist/educator/activist Helen Frederick
14. In Calgary, Alberta, Canada – A reading at Mount Royal University, organized by the poet/educator Richard Harrison
- The death of Al Mutanabbi Street
- Owles, Eric (December 18, 2008). “Then and Now: A New Chapter for Baghdad Book Market”. The New York Times. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
- Bramley, Ellie Violet (21 January 2014). “Literary project honours Baghdad’s devastated bookselling district”. London: The Guardian. Retrieved 18 April 2015.