Al-Mutanabbi
Street Broadsides
  Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition project
––one of only ten in the world––

Hawk Devouring a Pigeon




 

Artist's Statement

Hawk Devouring a Pigeon was printed at the Harry Smith Print Shop during the Naropa Institute Summer Writing Program in Boulder, Colorado in July 2009 from type set by hand in the shop and a linoleum block. Earlier in the year, from my fifth story office window in Center City Philadelphia, I observed just such a scene, the hawk, claws pinning the pigeon, perched on the turret of a nearby church building not five yards away, at eye level. It was textbook Kantian sublime and horrifying. The hawk and the pigeon share an excuse; this is part of their natural relations, hunter and prey, perhaps made a bit uncanny by the cityscape.

Humans, however, are not as easily cleared for their violence. Some would argue that war is innate, while others cannot accept this either intellectually or empathetically. The hawk’s action becomes a stand-in for meditating on human violence at a scale that is not easy to contemplate. Humans do not only destroy life, but culture. The al- Mutanabbi Street bombings represent the destruction of something that is both close to my heart and my livelihood, as a maker of books. It is an attack on a space that I usually consider to be safe – the space of ideas, imagination, and information. Every violent act in Iraq, committed by an Iraqi, an American, or anyone else, points, in my mind, to the utter wrongness of the U.S.-led attack on and occupation of Iraq, of bearing that guilt and shame. It is important to me that this project not only provides a space for people around the world to speak out collectively and collaboratively, but also takes a step towards making reparations in the form of fundraising.