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Showing posts from April, 2011

An Inventory of Al-Mutanabbi Street

On 5 March 2007 a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. More than 30 people were killed and 100 wounded. Al-Mutanabbi Street is in a mixed Shia-Sunni area. It's the historic centre of Baghdad bookselling, with bookstores and outdoor stalls, caf├ęs, stationery shops, tea and tobacco shops... It's been the heart of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community since the 13th century. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition was formed as a response to the bombing, to honour the street by creating work that holds both "memory and future" - what was lost that day. To this end it devised and curated the Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadside Project , and completed its call to letterpress printers after reaching a goal of 130 broadsides from 130 individual printers. Thanks to the efforts of writer Evelyn Conlon, thirty of the resulting broadsides were recently exhibited in The Market House in Monaghan and the Central Library, ILAC Centre, Dublin. Now the coalition is

'Genius or Not' writing project

A little over a year ago, a group of writers who had previously appeared in Succour magazine, as well as a small number selected through open submissions to Succour 's abandoned issue 11 (February 6, 2010), were invited to introduce to their writing practice an exercise that would come to be known as Genius or Not - following the example of Harry Mathews who, in 1980, attempted to overcome writer's block by committing to produce "twenty lines a day, genius or not" for a period of one year (himself following an exhortation that Stendhal once made to himself). Harry Mathews went on to publish the results in his book 20 Lines a Day (Dalkey Archive Press) . Each writer was asked to commit to at least one writing session per month lasting no more than one hour, which would yield a prose piece of no more than 500 words or a poem of no more than 20 lines, and whose contents would not have been preconceived in any way. The result would then be posted for publication within