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tv   [untitled]    February 19, 2011 2:30am-3:00am PST

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. >> on march 5th, 2007, a car bomb was exploded on mutanabbi street in baghdad. mutanabbi street is a mixed shia-suni area. more than 30 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded.
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this locale is the historic center of baghdad book selling, a winding street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. named after the famous 10th century classic poet, al-mutanabbi, this is an old and established street for book selling and has been for hundreds of years. mutanabbi street also holds cafes, stationary shops, and even tea and tobacco shops. it has been the heart and soul of the baghdad literary and intellectual community. this tragedy is part of a wider and continuing tragedy, but one that we want to isolate and address, not only for the loss of lives but also for the implications underlying the destruction of a street where books were sold. book selling on mutanabbi street is no different from book selling here.
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we traffic in memory, ideas and dreams. in that sense, we feel that mutanabbi street starts at the front door of all of our book shops. mutanabbi street starts here. our first reader will be sinan anton. >> when i was torn by war, i took a brush immersed in death, and drew a window on war's wall. i opened it, searching for something, but all i saw was another war and a mother weaving a shroud for the dead man still in her womb. there was a photograph of an iraqi boy on the front page of the "new york times".
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he sat on the edge of the truck, 8 or 9 years old, surrounded by his family, his father, mother , and 5 siblings were asleep. his head was buried in his hands. all the clouds of the world were waiting on the threshold of his eyes. the tall man wiped off the sweat and started digging the 7th grave. the next reader is going to be diane dupris. thank you. >> i'm going to read a few things that i wrote sitting in a hotel room in, oh, whatever year that was, 01, i guess, when we started bombing afghanistan. these are short poems on the
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afghan war. 1, small bones of mountain children in the snow. two, bags of rice burst open, burlap flaps in the wind. even the label, usa, is fading. three, we air drop transistor radios. can you eat them? will they keep you warm? this one is called les american, october 5, 2001. we are feral, rare as mountain wolves. our hearts are pure and stupid. we go down, pitted against our own. there's one other short thing. we gathered there frequently,
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old scholars, printers, book collectors, old and young writers pass through the place on any given afternoon. all kinds of activity came to the shop in the years i worked there. they were the early years of the black awareness, robert williams was active in south carolina. there was a period of time when the cot in the back of the store was a drop off for various disassembled armaments. sometimes someone we didn't know would put something under the mattress, making the cot unusable for several days. someone would come by and take the hardware away in a shopping bag and that would be it for a week or so. there was often a black photographer who would come to the shop with an empty shopping bag. when he left, he with leave in
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a zigzag and eventually get on a bus going south. >> i wanted to read a poem that was sent by the poet that i invited to the recent san francisco international poetry festival from iraq i've been in touch with for more than a year and a half. after the united states would not give him his visa, i asked him -- i told him about mutanabbi street and he wrote a poem and he wrote it in english, though he writes in, of course, in arabic. but this one he wrote in english. so i'll read it. one figure in the poem you should know, humbaba, which is an ogre, a monster of
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immemorial age. that was a special big garden, a forest, where all types of trees and flowers grew. the trees bending down gently flinging branches. our orchard grew like a crown on the sun's eyebrow. where did humbaba come from? his mother was just a cave, his father unknown. who made him a friend pretending guardian of the orchard. did those nice shrubs need fear to go begging for a garden and have humbaba in his treachery ilk. those plants and flowers were like books everyone could read, not cut and throw away. their different fantastic colors had formed our blood so our veins ran smoothly, our 7 wonders showed.
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then humbaba made a whirlwind of fire and snow. who crowned him king? who showed him our garden was but a jail? humbaba was great and scary, but not so very strong, though no one could ever conquer him as no one would ever try. time and again, when things grew old, humbaba alone believed himself eternal and young, still powerful, able to defeat all. humbaba didn't want to know one fact: that accumulation will lead to eruptive change. but, sadly, when suddenly he realized it after all, he chose to check its power on all, the tall. he crushed all the shrubs and plants leaving them creeping and broken all over. he damaged the flowers and
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colors, the flowers withered, their leaves all burned and soon they were throwing their seeds every which way and when the whole orchard changed into a dry, gray waste, humbaba, his mind like stone, shouted his horrible cry of fire and burned all that gray and yellow, birds of all kinds were flying away with ashes in their beaks which humbaba couldn't oversee any more or ever set on fire. then, grandfather ended his day and continued closing his big thick yellow book, turning to his grandsons and daughters and anding them a big red bud, then bidding them good night and laying his head on his yawning book, he glances solemnly at the full moon in the core of the sky, his eyelids blinking once, searching for that big,
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silvery rose. the next reader is dima shahabi >> i'd like to move on with an iraqi poet, one of the most prominent and brilliant poets of her time recently passed away in cairo, in june, actually. she was not only a poet, she was luminous and free-thinking pioneer in establishing the theory of what has come to be known as free verse in arabic poetry. in addition to her extensive laments on oppression of women and melancholy. she left. no cheek turned pale, no lip trembled. the door did not hear the story of her death.
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no window curtain overflowed with sorrow and gloom to follow the tomb until it disappeared. the moon lamenting its depression. the night surrendered itself without worry to the morning. the lights brought the voice of the milk girls, the fasting and the moaning of a starved cat of which nothing remained except bone. the fussing of salesmen, the struggle of life, kids threw stones at one another in the middle of the road while dirty water flooded the avenue and the wind toyed with gates and roof tops, alone in a state of semi oblivion. . >> on the day al-matarazzo
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street was bombed, did you notice how quickly it folded in itself? or the broken tea cups and coffee-stained saucers, the gray matter, and just before the street was eviscerated by those, just before that moment, did you hear the patter, the proclamation, the prayer as they wrangled and swore, denied and affirmed, did you hear the words as they fell? for a thousand years we have, two thousand years, more coffee? what do you think?
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but this book says -- map, border, industry, collusion, resistance, truth, spirit, faith, doctrine, domain, love, free, portal, wind, cut. did you hear the euphony of the street like a rain forest of song birds pefrpblged among the crinkle and fluttering leaves of newspapers as they addressed if not solved, defined if not created the problems and the promise of tomorrow? did you hear the explosion, the screech, the howl, the scream? did you even know of the dreams imploded inside the molten iron, splayed blood and torn guts across the narrow book-lined street as debate turned to barb's screeches, philosophy into choked smoke and a thousand years of history was buried in the rubble.
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or was there nothing except an inxoerable deadly silence. and the next reader is rick london. >> i'm going to read a few poems by the palestinian poet mahmud darish. i have the wisdom of one condemned to die. i possess nothing, so nothing can possess me and have written my will in my own blood. oh, inhabitant of my song, trust in water. and i sleep pierced and crowned by my tomorrow. i dream the earth's heart is
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greater than its mouth, more clear than its mirrors, and i was lost in a white cloud that carried me up high as if i were a hupo and the wind itself my wings. at dawn, the call of the night guard woke me from my dream, from my language. you will live another death, so revise your last will. the hour of execution is postponed again. i asked, until when? he said, wait till you have died some more. i said, i possess nothing, so nothing can possess me, and have written my will in my own blood. oh, inhabitant of my song, trust in water.
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this last poem has an epigraph, the cypress is the shadow of the tree and not the tree itself, and has no shadow because it is the tree's shadow. the cypress is in pieces like a shattered minaret. it's asleep in the road in its own aesthetic shadows, green and dark, just like it is. no one has been harmed. cars pass by, speeding over its branches, rising dust settling on their windows. the cypress is in pieces, but the dove that chose it doesn't move its exposed nest to a nearby accommodation. overhead, two migrating birds circle the sufficiency of its nesting place and trade gestures. a woman says to her neighbor, i
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wonder, did you see a storm come by? no, nor a bulldozer, and yet the cypress is in pieces. and someone passing the debris says, maybe it got bored from neglect or worn out by time, for it's as long as a giraffe and as meaningly as a dust broom and it provides no shade for lovers. a small boy says, i used to draw it without air. its lines were easy to follow. and a girl says the sky today is lacking because the cypress is in pieces. and a young man says, no, the sky today is complete because the cypress is in pieces. and i say to myself, it's not obscure or clear. the cypress is in pieces.
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there is only this. the cypress is in pieces. . >> a poem i wrote shortly after 9-11. the terrorists for rachel cory and all those who were idealists and who actually believed that they could make an effect and social change. the terrorists who lives amongst us is not you, the terrorist who lurks in the shadows of our crowded city streets isn't me. he's not a demon with bulging eyes, a twisted mouth full of dirt, a crooked mouth, fangs driping blood. it's not the savage guner waiting for our school on their
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way to school. no, this heinous replica of satan doesn't look like a jew. dopt make a habit of supplying the motives of sin with colors of skin because it's skin deep. a student with dreams of statehood or a teenage girl driven by desperation and fear or a dentist or an apprentice of a dead soldier, who crouches in the wounds of the dead and the dying, who hurls stones at tanks and encroaching soldiers, who stands unmoved before a
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roiling tank, who stares with barbed eyes. the enemy is never one who kills for no reason. the enemy is never one who must be vanquished at all cost. it is not so easy to kill from the inside, a shifting corridor of blame. not so easy to trace an intricate blame of betrayals and broken treaties. the enemy is not you, the enemy is not me. the enemy is muslim, christian, atheist, hindu, jew. he is our collective face, our evolution, the devolution, the
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ripening of long injustices. thank you. the next poet is michael palmer. >> what of that wolf hound at full stride. what of the woman that serves as fairl guide and witness to the snowy hive? what of the singer robed in red and frozen at mid-song? and the stone, its brokenness, or the voice oft seen that says note the dragon seen but asking no questions of flight, no questions of irridescence, what of that century, did you see it pass? what of that wolf hound at your back? and then a poem that is for
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mahmud darlish called the dream of narcissus. the dream of narcissus, that there would be a silence loud as time. the dream of the writer that there could be a silence loud as time, the dream of time that rest might come, the dream of rest, that unrest might arise. the dream of the palm, the pilgrims would enter the village. the dream of the village, that they depart with their palms and the house dreaming of his leveling and the exile as well, the dream of night that the day would be purified, the dream of day that the dark would be lifted, and the dream of the dream but who is to speak of this? i don't think this needs to be explained, it's called mad man with broom.
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the realist crows return at earliest morning. and the madman with broom, madman in his night shirt with a broom, he, too, returns. he thinks to roust the crows from the mulberry boughs by jabing and swirling his broom, by crazily twirling his broom in the wet summer air and hurling curses skyward beyond the boughs and the crows toward the fading gods beyond the fading stars. but the realist crows know it is only a man in a nightshirt after dawn; that the broom is a broom and that his cries are nothing more than words and half words the heavy air will swallow. they rise anyway from the tree, as best to quiet him and let morning be morning. soon enough they will return again by twos and threes,
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settling among the spreading limbs, their laughter the same before and after. catherine case is the next reader. . >> one is called the mountain by hashim hafik and it's translated by sadi samoi. i have washed the mountain, i have washed the stones and the pebbles that clings to the trees. i have washed the mountain. i have lit the paths and the back ways around the mountain. i have lit the caves and the stairs and the hidouts in the folds of the mountain. i have washed the summit and every crevice of the mountain so my loved ones might pass in the forenoon of the mountain
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day. this is called, lament for a market place in babylon, by abdul karin al karid and it's a reference to a suicide bombing. this one and the next one are both translated by salim yusef. on this grave stone are angels and people weeping. what are people waiting for, their ship? here it comes, borne by the deluge. in a market place now frequented by money changers with beards and baggy trousers, who restores the limbs and who throws open the gates for hollow-eyed gods coming in from babylon with red chests and white furious hair? i wonder who?
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on the day of march 1st in the 5th year after the second millennium, a massacre took place in babylon. it's my pleasure it introduce the next poet, george evans. . >> first, i would like to read a poem by my dear friend and wife, daisy samora, who was to be here today but is in nicaragua, keeping in mind what michael said about jorge and casablanca, i will read it in her language or my spanish first, then in translation. it's a poem directly addressed to poets but certainly to
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activists as well. (speaking spanish) no man's land. we are a mine field of clarity and whoever crosses the barbed wire comes back to life. but who is interested in
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crawling through undergrowth? who dares sail a tempest? who wants to come face to face with purity? that's why we're fenced off in this no man's land under permanent cross fire. three bomb holes. flag study. red. she walks into the bright vegetable garden, chopped water to life from brittle landscape, leans her hoe against goat wire, admires shoots balanced on turned earth, looks up, fulfilleds a leaves sigh, clouds, ha


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