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

I Was in a Hurry

Artist's Statement

Bonnie Thompson Norman and Jill Littlewood have been collaborating in various ways since they met at the Woman’s Building in 1980. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project touched both of them deeply because of their love of books: the writing, the illustration, the papermaking, the printing and binding; the knowledge and stewardship of the booksellers and librarians who make books available for all to appreciate. The devastation of libraries and bookstores in Iraq is a great loss for the entire world.

It is this keen sense of loss that Dunya Mikhail captures in her poem I Was in a Hurry. Jill’s response was a drawing of a figure and an object sketched in vigorous, calligraphic lines, which in turn inspired Bonnie to give an equally dynamic shape to the poem. The sense of fleeing was emphasized by the placement of the type so that the lines fell in a seemingly random way, rushing forward.

Bonnie chose colors found in early manuscripts from the region and added bronze powder to the freshly printed ink as an homage to the venerable tradition of illuminated Persian miniatures (many of which must have surely been lost in the destruction).

The process of printing was, for Bonnie and Jill, a meditation on the anguish this war has caused. The beauty of the poet’s language felt like a gift... It allowed us to share with her the burden she must feel.