On March 5th, 2007, a car bomb exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street 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 of contributing artists calls itself Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.
Now, 7 years later, the Coalition is as strong as ever as it touches poets, artists, writers, and scholars worldwide. 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.