An excerpt from FIVE HYMNS TO PAIN


Text by Nazik al Malaika
Translation into English by Hasain Haddawy
Letterpress, relief and hand printing techniques by Felicia Rice

Limited edition of 25
Scroll book: 8” x 44.75”
Box: 4”x 4” x 9”

On March 5th, 2007, more than 30 people were killed when a car bomb was exploded on Mutanabbi Street, an old and established street for bookselling in the heart of Baghdad’s literary and intellectual community. To protest the bombing, the Mutanabbi Street Coalition, a group started by San Francisco poet and bookseller Beau Beausoleil, organized readings and invited letterpress printers to produce broadsides by Iraqi poets and writiers. Moving Parts Press contributed An Excerpt from Five Hymns to Pain by Nazik al-Malaika.

An Excerpt from Five Hymns to Pain is dedicated to the literary and intellectual community of al-Mutanabbi Street, Baghdad. The poem was written by one of the most influential contemporary Iraqi female poets, Nazik al-Malaika (1923-2007), and translated by Husain Haddawy. The selection of this excerpt was facilitated by Beau Beausoliel of the al-Mutanabbi Street Project. The book was designed and printed at Moving Parts Press by Felicia Rice with the assistance of Stephen Acerra and Maren Preston in one week in August 2012.

The presentation of this fierce and moving poem as a scroll grew out of my desire to print the entire book on one side of a single sheet. As the project developed, the choice of paper (Japanese Hosho) led to another, the choice of typeface (Garamond italic), and finally to the color palette (dun colors accented with red) and image creation (printed and laid down by hand with a brayer). A desert landscape emerged, sliced at regular intervals by sharp black vegetation. On Monday the book was to be in an accordion-fold format, but by Friday it became clear to all three of us that the piece was a facsimile of a papyrus scroll.

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5th, 2007, Bombing of Baghdad’s “Street of the Booksellers”is a trade edition edited by Beau Beausoleil and Deema K. Shehabi from PM Press. This anthology begins with a historical introduction to al-Mutanabbi Street and includes the writing of Iraqis as well as a wide swath of international poets and writers who were outraged by this attack. Many of the texts were interpreted as broadsides in the first Mutannabi Street Coalition series in 2007. Moving Parts Press contributed the broadside, Destinies.