Poetry, art tribute to victims of Iraq car bombing is March 5

Students and faculty from English and art and art history are holding a March 5 art viewing and poetry reading to remember the victims of a 2007 car bombing in Iraq.

"In Remembrance of…" is noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Nebraska Union. The event is free and open to the public.

Megan McLeay, a graduate art student from Omaha, got involved with the project through the book art class she was taking with Karen Kunc, professor of art.

“I think art and poetry are a very powerful way to comment on the ongoing problems in our world,” she said. “This event, in particular, I got involved with because of Karen’s book art class. She suggested we use the techniques we were learning in her class to create a work of art, which represented or else commented on what happened March 5. I hope people who attend will take a moment to reflect on and remember what happened.”

On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, a mixed Shia-Sunni area. More than 30 people were killed, and more than 100 were wounded.

Al-Mutanabbi Street, the historic center of Baghdad bookselling, holds bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationary shops and even tea and tobacco shops. It has been the heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community.

“Our Lincoln commemoration action is open to the cross-references of tragedies around the world and in our daily lives, through powerful voices and expression,” said Kunc, who will also be one of the participating artists. “Artists are taking action on this day world-wide, as a lament and commemoration of the power of words and art.”

Camille Hawbaker, another graduate student in the Department of Art and Art History, also got involved through Kunc’s book arts class.

“It has been interesting to think of the book as an art form, which for me, is a chance to celebrate the power of the book as a vessel of ideas and knowledge,” she said. “I look forward to joining with other artists in this project to show the resilience of creative thought that can bring about the real, positive changes in society that will never result from violence. I hope that ‘In Remembrance of…’ strengthens the connections between artists in Lincoln and shows our support for the creative minds in the Middle East.”

Participating poets will include Professor of English Grace Bauer, and Nima Kian, a graduate student in English.

“I see this as an opportunity to connect poetry with the larger community and to be a voice for peace,” said Bauer, who plans to read her own poems, as well as poems by Brian Turner, an American poet who was in the Iraq war.

For Kian, the event is more personal.

“I am participating in this event because I believe it speaks to the purpose literature and art aim to serve: change, and the promotion of action,” Kian said. “What happened on Al-Mutanabi Street needs to be remembered, as do all other such tragic events. Being a part of this reading is important to me because I remember, albeit vaguely, the sounds of bombs falling in Tehran when I was a little boy during the Iraq-Iran War. I hope that those who attend will understand more how the past is never really past, and that progress, if any is to be achieved, cannot depend on the promise of a better tomorrow; it must look back into the past and fix the mistakes made then to make possible any real progress for the future.”

In addition to Kunc, McLeay and Hawbaker, the following student artists are also scheduled to participate: Lindsey Clausen, Sean Flattery, Breanna Huff, Briana Kosmicki, Sarah Moldovan and Christopher Rhodes.