A Call to Action for Letterpress Printers
The Chinese Emperor, Quin Shi Huang, burned most of the extant books
of the time and executed many of the
leading scholars in his kingdom.
Printing was forbidden to the Turkish population by command of the
Sultan Bajazet II and again, in 1515 by Selim I.
Friar Diego de Landa conducted an auto-da-fe in Mani, when he burned
27 books in Maya writing, leaving only 4
Mayan books for scholars to puzzle over.
20,000 books are burned by the Nazis in a Berlin public square. Books
that Goebbels referred to as holding ?....the
unclean spirit of the past.?
Sri Lankan policemen and other government sponsored enforcers set fire
to the Jaffina Public Library destroying
97,000 volumes, including many culturally important and irreplaceable
During the Bosnian War, the Oriental Institute was attacked and 5263
bound manuscripts were destroyed along with
hundreds of thousands of Ottoman documents.
On March 5th 2007, a car bomb was exploded on Mutanabbi Street in
Baghdad. Mutanabbi Street is in a mixed Shia-Sunni area. More than 30
people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. This locale is the
historic center of Baghdad bookselling, a winding street filled with
bookstores and outdoor book stalls. Named after the famed 10th century
classical Arab poet, al-Mutanabbi, this is an old and established
street for bookselling and has been for hundreds of years. Mutanabbi
Street also holds cafes, stationery shops, and even tea and tobacco
shops. It has been the heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and
Any group that wants to control a people also wants to control the
content of every printed page, and they inevitably come to regard any
other unsanctioned page as a possible threat. Those that targeted
Mutanabbi Street were? are, as much affronted by any novelist or poet
as they are by any political or religious tract. They want ultimate
control, and they will kill as many as they need to, until no other
voice but their own leaves the printed page. Oppression extracts not
just a terrible human toll, but it also subtracts the words and images
of the writers/artists who hold and express the cultural memory of any
This is our starting point: where language, thought, and reality
reside; where memory, ideas, and even dreams wait patiently in their
black ink. We are extending our call to letterpress printers to
contribute a personal response to the bombing on Mutanabbi Street. To
date, we have received 42 broadsides which may be viewed at the
Florida Atlantic University/Jaffe Center for Book Arts site:
www.library.fau.edu./depts/spc/jaffe.htm We would like to add to our
existing archive, to bring the total to 130 broadsides, which is the
approximate number of people killed and wounded on Mutanabbi Street
For further information contact: Coordinator of Mutanabbi Street
Broadside Project II, Lisa Beth Robinson, at robinsonli@xxxxxxx or
Beau Beausoleil at overlandbooks@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mutanabbi Street starts here.