On the 10th anniversary of the bombing of Baghdad's venerated literary-café district, Al-Mutanabbi Street, The Markaz & the Los Angeles Review of Books co-present From L.A. to Baghdad, American Artists Remember Al-Mutanabbi Street
when American poets and writers from around the world gather at Chevalier's Books in Larchmont to remember the terrible destruction that took place on March 5, 2007. This LA event will be one of more than two dozen similar programs happening in cities around the U.S. and internationally, coordinated by the editors of the anthology Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here
which is also a dedicated festival.
From L.A. to Baghdad, American Artists Remember Al-Mutanabbi Street includes literary readings by poets & writers including Sholeh Wolpé, India Radfar, Dima Hilal and Mark LeVine, and art by Iraqi American artist Paul Batou. This event is free to the public (donations graciously accepted). Takes place Sunday, March 5, 4 pm at Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., LA 90004. RSVP online below.
About the Poets & Writers
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Dima Hilal
is an Arab American poet whose work has appeared widely in a number of anthologies and reviews, among them The Poetry of Arab Women, a Contemporary Anthology
(editor, Nathalie Handal) and Scheherazade’s Legacy: Arab and Arab American Women on Writing
, (editor, Susan Muaddi Darraj), and the San Francisco Chronicle, Orion literary journal, and Aramco. A wistful elegance characterizes many of Dima Hilal's poems, which reflect variously on the humanitarian crises of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria et al and concern themselves with the experience of refugees and immigrants. She is a resident of Southern California where she lives with her husband and two children.
is an American professor of history
at the University of California, Irvine
who also teaches at Lund University in Sweden. An author as well as a musician, LeVine spent time in Baghdad exploring the Al-Mutanabbi Street district. He received his B.A.
in comparative religion
studies from Hunter College
and his M.A.
from New York University
's Department of Middle Eastern
Studies. He speaks Arabic
, and Persian
, as well as Italian
. He has traveled and lived widely in the Middle East (Morocco, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Turkey etc) and his books include Why They Don't Hate Us, Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil
; Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam
; An Impossible Peace: Oslo and the Burdens of History
; and Overthrowing Geography; and One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States
lives in Los Angeles and has four published books of poetry, most recently Position & Relation,
Station Hill/ Barrytown Books. Her father, Lex Hixon, also known as Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi, was a religious scholar and author trained in five religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As a child, Radfar found poetry. Now, as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator with the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy, she works with young children, imprisoned youth, pregnant and parenting teens, the homeless and the neurologically diverse. She has edited three collections from her work as a facilitator. Radfar was the recipient of an Artist-in-Residence Grant from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs in 2015-2016, which she used to write a modern fairytale with a group of veterans transitioning out of homelessness at PATH West Los Angeles.
Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran and has lived in Trinidad, U.K. and the United States. About her poems, The Poetry Foundation writes, “Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender.” A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, among others, her publications include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Wolpé ’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton) by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar, has been hailed by Reza Aslan as “timeless as the masterpiece itself.” Wolpé’s writings have been translated into eleven languages. She is based in Los Angeles. Learn more at www.sholehwolpe.com.
is the author of the chapbooks With Lightness & Darkness and Other Brief Pieces
), Death Centos
(Ugly Duckling Presse), and co-editor of Among Margins: Critical & Lyrical Writing on Aesthetics
(Ricochet). She is also a Poetry Editor at Noemi Press
and a Managing Editor at Ricochet
. Born and raised in Arizona, she currently resides in Los Angeles where she is a Doctoral Candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Southern California. She holds an MFA in poetry from CalArts, where she was a Beutner Fellow.
Novelist Zinzi Clemmons
was raised in Philadelphia by a South African mother and an American father. A graduate of Brown and Columbia, her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, The Paris Review Daily, Transition, and elsewhere. She is a cofounder and former publisher of Apogee Journal and a contributing editor to Literary Hub. She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Dar al-Ma'mon in Marrakech, Morocco. Clemmons lives in Los Angeles with her husband, where she teaches at The Colburn Conservatory and Occidental College. She is the author of the novel What We Lose
whose novel is Homesick
, is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, and National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize, and her translations from Polish, Spanish, and Ukrainian have appeared in The New York Times, n+1, Electric Literature, BOMB, Guernica, The New Republic and elsewhere. She holds a PhD from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a Founding Editor of The Buenos Aires Review.
is a poet, critic and translator. He was born in Venice to Italian and Iranian parents, and grew up in Abu Dhabi. He has a BA in History and Politics and an M.Litt in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. He is the author of The Promised Land
David Shook is a poet and publisher who writes poems that explore the vibrancy of the city and its inhabitants. His collection Our Obsidian Tongues was longlisted for the 2013 International Dylan Thomas Prize, and poems from that book have been translated into French, Isthmus Zapotec, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, and Uyghur, as well as being adapted into a short film in Rwanda. Shook founded Los Angeles-based nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, the first publisher to win consecutive Best Translated Book Awards for Poetry, and has himself translated books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec, including work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán.
About Artist Paul Batou
Paul Batou, a native Iraqi artist, received a degree in pharmacy in 1982 from the University of Baghdad. While in school, Batou worked and was inspired by many teachers and artists studying at the University. In 1980, he had his first art show in Baghdad. During his years spent in Baghdad, Batou placed his art in several galleries, learned to play the guitar, and was forced into service for the Iraq-Iran war as a medic. In 1989, he left Iraq with his family and moved to Los Angeles. In the United States, Batou has participated in several group shows and presented solo exhibits.