The Inferno in Our Pages

Sally Schneider

Frequent Contributor David Saltman called the other day with a Mary Oliver poem he’d found. It’s about books! we marveled. It’s totally changed out view of them. When you open one a world literally appears. Hummingbirds do fly off the page.

David replied:

Books are the closest humans have come to making seashells.

 

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

That day we came across Ahmed Jadallah’s wrenching images in the New Yorker of books burned by ISIS troops when they stormed the great library in Mosul, Iraq. In Mosul’s Library Without Books, Robin Wright recounts the destruction of one of the country’s great treasures, and of an extraordinary book drive that took place outside the gutted library. It was the brainchild of Mosul Eye, a pseudonymous historian and blogger who chronicled life under ISIS rule until he had to flee Iraq. He is trying to coordinate a cultural rebirth in Mosul.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Four young musicians performed in front of the library steps. Three students pinned their photographs of people and places and life in Mosul on a long clothesline and recounted the stories behind them. Four painters displayed their work, propped on easels…The price of admission to the student festival was a book. The kids collected several dozen volumes…

It marked the beginning of a Mosul Eye’s worldwide campaign to revive the libraries of Mosul.

We open many books daily to see what will fly out of them: poems, mandalas, scents, hawks, artworks, places, science, music, religion, history, dance,  ideas, ideas, ideas, ideas, idea, ideas, ideas …

Sally Schneider

…even imagined — and hence real —though Invisible Cities. Italo Calvino could have been writing about the Library at Mosul:

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

 

Although many countries have promised help, the campaign to rebuild the Mosul library is fraught with difficulties; some say it is impossible. Mosul Eye is determined:

Our message about the library is not only about books but to tell ISIS that we are alive and that you can’t kill us or ideas—by Shakespeare or anyone else.”

 

…we are alive and…you can’t kill us or ideas—by Shakespeare or anyone else.

 

As we open a book, we realize how it is much more than a book it is…

 

Gigi de la Torre

 

 

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