al Mutanabbi Street – it’s hard to squash ideas

You’ll have noticed I’m a bit grumpy at the moment.  Losing a job you enjoy does that to you, I find.  But today I was reminded by email that as ever, my troubles pale into insignificance compared to the misery many other people suffer.

I’m working on books for the Al-Mutanabi Street project, aiming to deliver a symbolic collection of ideas-as-artists’-books to the National Library of Iraq as some sort of consolation and message of hope in the face of senseless destruction, thanks to the ingenuity of American poet and book seller Beau Beausoleil.  He’s just one man, who got angry at the attack on a city, a nation and a culture represented by the bombing of Al-Mutanabi’s historic book sellers in 2007 and started a world-wide “civil” protest in all senses of that word.  Today he sent out an email about the Iraqi government’s own acts of repression: sending in the bulldozers to Al-Mutanabi Street.

What do you do in the face of stupidity?  I just don’t know, but I feel a bit weighed-down by the thought of it and I’m seeking distractions so I don’t get depressed.  School has just broken up for the Spring holidays and I’m looking forward to taking a few days off and seeing friends and my stepson, and meeting some BookArtObject friends in Brisbane on Thursday.  I’ve taken my dahlia tubers out of their winter storage in the shed and I suppose the sight of tender pale pink shoots rising out of the sawdust is what has made me happiest so far today, although we’re off to a wedding in a few hours which will also be happy and hopeful.  When I come back from Brisbane I will finish binding my friend Willis’s books for the Al-Mutanabi Street project and then start on my own, and I am looking forward to making the acquaintance of a Syrian/Iraqi refugee family in Coffs Harbour who have offered to help me do some English to Arabic translations.  The wife is from Baghdad and knows the book market well.  I wonder if she’s seen the news.

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