Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef dies aged 87 in London


Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef has died at the age of 87 at his home near London, after battling a terminal illness.

Youssef was one of the most respected poets in the Arab world.

He is survived by his wife Iqbal, two daughters Mariam and Shiraz and three grandchildren.

Born near Basra, Iraq, in 1934, Youssef leaves a legacy that includes dozens of works of poetry and prose and a memoir. He was also a literary critic.

He graduated from high school in Basra, before graduating from the Baghdad Normal School in 1954 with a degree in Arabic literature.

While he worked as a teacher very early on and then turned to literary journalism, Youssef has mainly devoted his life to writing.

His impressive array of poetry collections includes the years 1969 Qasai’d Mari’iyah (Visible poems), 1971’s Akhdar Ben Youssef wa Mashaghilihi (Akhdar Ben Youssef and his concerns) and Ashjaru Ithaca (The trees of Ithaca) in 1992.

He has also translated into Arabic the works of many well-known writers, including Walt Whitman, Federico Garcia Lorca, Constantine Cavafy and Yiannis Ritsos.

He has also published translations of works by great international poets.

Youssef’s own poetic works have also been translated into English, French, German and Italian.

Youssef was also interested in politics and it was his political beliefs that also led to his exile in the UK.

The poet once described himself as “the last communist”, which is also the title of a collection of poetry he published in 2007, due to his disagreement with the Iraqi Communist Party’s support for the American invasion in 2003. In 2004 he received the Al Owais Prize for Poetry.

In 2005 he won the Italian International Prize for Best Foreign Author.




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