On March 5th 2007, in the middle of the Iraq war, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad, destroying a busy avenue of cafés and bookstores that had served as a meeting place for generations of middle-eastern writers and thinkers. In response to the attack, a San Francisco bookseller, Beau Beausoleil, rallied a community of international artists and writers to produce a collection of letterpress-printed broadsides (poster-like works on paper), artists’ books (unique works of art in book form), and an anthology of writing, all focused on expressing solidarity with Iraqi booksellers, writers and readers. The coalition calls itself Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.
The coalition has agreed to donate a complete run of the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here collection to the Herron Art Library. Valued at over $250,000, the Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here collection includes 260 artists’ books; a publication entitled Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5th, 2007, Bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of the Booksellers”, plus 130 broadsides—one for every person killed or injured in the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street. The Herron Art Library will be one of only three libraries worldwide to be a permanent home to the collection, and the only library in the U.S.
Along with the collection, the library is hosting a conference this fall on the IUPUI campus and a show featuring some of the collection in August at the Harrison Center for the Arts. For more information on the collection, please go to this website.