Sue Bovington, BA(Hons), MA, UK
|Reading through the,
‘Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here’, anthology
from coalition founder Beau Beausoleil,
poets and their writings seemed to be a dominant theme. Not too
surprising as the Al-Mutanabbi of the street name was a famous Iraqi
poet. This was my starting point, but I also wanted to have a link
between this book and the ones I was making about the river Thames
for my MA Degree show.
My research found that the Tigris flows passed one end of Al-Mutanabbi
Street. I thought it might be difficult to find a suitable poem
about the Tigris, but The British Museum provided the perfect answer.
In 2006 they staged an exhibition, Word into Art,
which showed a fibreglass sculpture by the Iraqi born artist Dia
al-Azzawi, who now lives and works in London. The sculpture,
Blessed Tigris, is six metres high and represents
a 9C minaret on the banks of the Tigris. It is inscribed with the
poem, ‘O Blessed Tigris’, (1962)
by Iraqi poet, Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri,
‘The River’s Tale’, (1911)
by Rudyard Kipling, (1865-1936) is my
Thames poem. Both are about history, memory, loss and bloodshed,
and lent themselves to being broken down into a few lines at a time,
so they could be spread over several pages.
I wanted to make big, grand books with hard covers and wooden spines,
but the pleas for weight consideration overrode this, and I have
made simple dos-à-dos pamphlet structures. My choice of cover,
black and gold Bangladeshi cotton rag paper, is in response to a
quote in the coalition anthology, ‘in a world being brightened
with colour, they tried to turn everything black’.