Janet Marie Bradley

Al Mutanabbi Street

Under One Moon

Under one moon

Beautiful words

Will endure.

In poetry,

The seed that

We all hold



On the pages of three books, words are simultaneously destroyed and created with fire.  Through the destruction of text, words appear, refusing to succumb to flame.  They are the winged creatures of our souls, birds on wires, perched in line on pages of books waiting to be read, spoken; waiting to take flight.  Like birds, they are both fragile and powerful.

Discovering and illuminating what humans share as opposed to what divides us is important within the context of the tragedy of the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street.  The natural world provides many points of commonality.  Whether deep within our cells, on the surface of the earth or above in the cosmos, there is knowledge that we share.  That knowledge is the seed that produced our first words. Words that were not only the raw materials of language but words from which poetry was born.  Poetry, regardless of time or place draws upon these raw materials.  They are the elemental words known to all, held in our emotional core from the beginning.   ‘Moon’ is such a word.  When I look up at the moon, I am struck by not only its celestial beauty but also by the knowledge that thousands of miles away, in places like the “fertile crescent”, there are people inspired by that same moon.  Its waxing and waning is symbolic of renewal and rebirth.  In Baghdad and beyond, the persistence of the moon’s phases helps remind us of reslience of spirit and the endurance of universal knowledge.  Since man could lift his head to the skies and speak, both the power of nature and the power of words have been inextricably linked.

In the three books created for the "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here" project, I created words and images by burning and eliminating exisitng text.  Words and poetry in both Arabic and English evolved and survived despite the destructive force of fire. They meet in the middle surrounded by the reflective light of silver.  Beautiful words appear, rising not from the ash, but despite the ash.

The three different books share the same title.  Under One Moon 1,2 and 3 are paired with their unaltered original copies.  1)  The Physical Basis for Life by J. D. Bernal (1949),  2)  Snow:  poems  by Humbert Wolfe (1931) and 3)  Guide to the Stars by Hector Macpherson (1946).  The inclusion of the unaltered books evokes wholeness and healing

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