On March 5th 2007, a car bomb exploded on Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. 30 people were killed and more than 100 wounded. The street is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling and filled with bookstores, outdoor bookstalls, cafes, teashops and more. It is an important gathering place for the city’s literary community.

This tragedy will be remembered March 5 at  7 pm in the Multnomah Friends Meeting House, 4312 SE Stark St. It’s part of the Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project, Portland is one of 27 locations around the world, including Cairo, Egypt, celebrating the indomitable spirit of that ancient street in Baghdad. Participants will remember in solidarity with the Iraqi people and with poets, writers and artists everywhere.

The two speakers are Dr. Bahir Butti, speaking about the poetry of 10th century Arabic poet, al-Mutanabbi (for whom the street was named) and photographer Jim Lommasson speaking about his recent project: What We Carried: Fragments from the Cradle of Civilization, a collaborative effort with Iraqi refugees living in the area. The work has been exhibited nationally and will ultimately be turned into a book.

The evening includes readings of poetry, live music, stories and essays in English and Arabic, plus personal stories from Iraqi refugees and there’ll be opportunities for questions and conversation. The evening is presented free with donations accepted and refreshments will be served. For more, see www.23sandy.com/almutanabbievent.html.