Memorial Reading for Mutanabbi Street | Los Angeles Public Library
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Memorial Reading for Mutanabbi Street

Moderated by Jordan Elgrably, Louise Steinman, and Justin Veach
Co-presented with Levantine Cultural Center, L.A. Poetry Festival, PEN Center USA, and Red Hen Press
Monday, November 19, 2007
Episode Summary

On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on Mutanabbi Street, the lively center of Baghdad bookselling, filled with bookstores, cafes, and book stalls. 30 people were killed; more than 100 were wounded. Join poets and writers to memorialize this wounding of Baghdad's literary and intellectual heart.

Participant(s) Bio
Chris Abani's prose includes the novels The Virgin of Flames, Graceland, Masters of the Board, and the novellas Becoming Abigail and Song For Night. His poetry collections include Hands Washing Water and Kalakuta Republic. He is a professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of many awards, including the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship and PEN Hemingway Book Prize.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Saadoun Al-Bayati was exposed to the meditative states produced through percussion and vocalizing as a child while attending Sufi rituals and ceremonies. His voice training took place through Qur'anic recitation, and as a young man, Saadoun often substituted for the muezzin at his neighborhood mosque, calling Muslims to prayer. Saadoun has performed the music of Iraq and other parts of the Arab Middle East since childhood.

In the United States Saadoun pursued studies in acting and graduated from the Goodman Theatre at the Art Institute of Chicago. His accomplishments as an actor include playing Dr. Aziz to Lillian Gish's Mrs. Moore in "A Passage to India" and working with such theatrical talents as Morris Carnovsky in "Mother Courage" and "King Lear" and Sam Wanamaker in "MacBeth".

Beau Beausoleil is a bookseller and the author of nine books of poetry, the latest titled Concealed In Language. He lives in San Francisco, California.

Laila Lalami, a native of Morocco, is a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New York Times and elsewhere. Her debut book of fiction, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was published in the fall of 2005 and translated into five languages. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.

Suzanne Lummis' reviews and poetry have appeared in The Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Poetry International and other magazines. Her collection In Danger was part Heyday Books' California Poetry Series. She is director of The Los Angeles Poetry Festival and editor of the literary web magazine, She teaches poetry writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

Majid Naficy fled his homeland in 1983 one year and a half after his wife Ezzat was executed in Iran. He has published two collections of poetry, Muddy Shoes and Father and Son as well as his doctoral dissertation "Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature." Majid is the author of more than twenty books in Persian as well as the co-editor of the literary organ of Iranian Writers' Association in Exile.

Marisela Norte is an East Los Angeles-based writer. Her work has appeared in various publications such as BOMB, Propagandist and West Magazine. Her first collection of prose East L.A. Days/Fellini Nights is forthcoming from City Works Press.

Sholeh Wolpé, a native of Iran, is a poet, literary translator and writer. She is the author of Sin-Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, The Scar Saloon, and the forthcoming Rooftops of Tehran. She is the associate editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Modern Literature from the Muslim World and editor of the forthcoming Iconoclasts and Visionaries.