YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

May 2012

VOL XX, Issue 5, Number 229

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401


Contemporary Iraqi Poetry Edited and Translated by Khaloud Al-Muttalibi


In order for the English reader to understand, enjoy and appreciate contemporary Iraqi poetry, light must be shed 
on its past.

The reader will find that the translated poetry reflects the experiences of theIraqi people, dictatorship, social 
problems and the horrors of war and terrorism that the country still endures.

The article that accompanies the poems, written by Professor Malik Al-Muttalibi (College of Fine Art, Baghdad 
University) aims to paint a picture of the historical background of contemporary Iraqi poetry and the stages through 
which it went. 

Khaloud Al-Muttalibi

Iraqi Poetry, Diverse Horizons
It is not possible to understand the contemporary Iraqi poetry scene without shedding light on its historical back ground and the transformation through which it went. From the oldest discovered text, dating back 2000 years, until the middle of the twentieth century A.D. (1947 to be precise), poetry was produced within a fixed frame, known in critical terms as "vertical Arabic poetry". In these eras, known according to modern critics as the classical eras, the changes that took place in poetry remained within the frame of the vertical structure, which was represented by the sixteen meter and the rhyming sequence. The changes were confined to breaking the popular type of metaphor without affecting the boundary of typical vertical Arabic poetry. The poets of the third century of Hijra (800 A.D.) led the transformation, with Habib Ibn Aus (Abu Tammam) at the forefront; this was the new classical period. The dialogue that took place between Abu Tammam and his listener reflects the confusion he had created in the popular figurative form. He asked Abu Tammam, “Why do you say incomprehensible things?” “Why do you not comprehend what is being said,” Abu Tammam replied. From this dialogue we may conclude that the stalemate caused by new classical poetry referred to comprehension and conveyance rather than to the essence of poetry. The main characteristics of the classical form are: 1 . The focalization inside a fixed outer form, which is represented by two hemistichs that are defined by the nature of the poetic meter. The second hemistich ends with a repetitive rhyming that continues to the end of the poem. 2. There is no organic unity in this entity so the poetic verse becomes the foundation and is not connected to the other verses other than by the outer connection of the rhyming and meter. There are exceptions of course, especially regarding pre-Islamic poetry, on which no one can pass a general critique of judgment. Therefore, classical criticism considered making the poem circular and the meaning of the verse incomplete without relying on the other verse to complete it, which is one of the flaws of this kind of poetry. According to this trend, the term, “the core of the verse” came to be used, which is the verse that represents the essence of the poem while the other verses remain as a decor for this sole motionless verse. 3. After Islam, the focus was on the substance rather than shape of the poem as poetry came to be valued in light of this criteria; good poetry is that with moral subjects. In short, the moral criteria became the focus of the classical criticism movement rather than the artistic one. 4. Learning poetry is related to its clarity, because vagueness is considered to be a flaw, as we have seen in the dialogue of Abu Tammam. 5.The domination of self-lyricism, in which the poet's self-pronoun become the focus of the action and direction. (2) It seems that the saying “history does not repeat itself” does not apply to the movement of the history of Arabic poetry. After the transformation that the classical period had witnessed, Arabic poetry in the late Abbasid eras and the eras that were known as the dark period (Uthman's rule) reverted to the poor types of poetry, such as with poetry of occasions, sermons, iterative adage, and laudatory poetry and so on. Poetry renovation (within the classical form) that took place in the first quarter of the twentieth century was not able to bring about the awaited Arabic poetry revolution. The first revived form (in the first Abbasid era), remained the inspiring model for those poets. (3) In the middle of the twentieth century, in 1947 to be precise, there had been a violation of the conventional Arabic poetical form, represented by the rhyming and metric patterns, by three poets, Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab, Nazik Al-Malaika, and Abd al-Wahhab Al-Bayati. These poets ended the rhyming and metric patterns in favour of the free verse or Tafila, launching the Arab Free Verse Movement or Tafila poetry. In this new poetic form the sources from which the free poet derives his poems were varied, ranging from drama, legends, historical symbols, Sufism as well as from the christian heritage, Christ and the cross. The usage of the latter in poetry became noticeably evident. The noisy city which began to turn its back on the nomadic values had a big effect on the modern poetic performance. Western poetry had also had an influence on contemporary Arabic poetry, in particular on Al-Sayyab's poetry, whose work had especially been influenced by Edith Sitwell and T.S. Eliot. This movement brought a shock to readers and triggered debate between supporters who had long awaited this innovation and others who had opposed it and thought of it as anything but a poetic movement because it overlooked the rules of poetry, stating that it is nothing other than a movement that is founded by incompetent poets who are incapable of forming the complex structure of poetry. (4) In the sixties, with the arrival of the philosophy of Existentialism (for example Sartre's work and his trilogy of books, Colin Wilson's work including The Outsider, The Stranger by Albert Camus, the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury). The first split came from within the innovators themselves, influenced by the Lebanese poetry movement and its periodical and poetic standpoint. Among the opponents of the free verse movement from the Lebanese poetic school were Yousif Al-Khal, Said Aql and Adonis (although he is Syrian). Meanwhile, the Iraqi poets of the sixties, including Fadel Al-Azzawy, led a fierce campaign against the free verse movement and its three symbols, describing it as a new dress on an old body. They accused the poets of the free verse movement of deluding themselves by claiming that they broke the metric form and the rhythmic patterns whilst remaining heavily involved in form and pattern. They did not bring forth any changes other than the changes that were related to its quantities rather than qualities. The sixties poetry fanatics tried to use provocative alteration within their poems, which led to the manifestation of geometric poems, breaking up the writing system by representing it with geometric shapes like the triangle and the circle or designing the words vertically or horizontally. Also the usage of metaphor exceeded the historically intended limit. The struggle resumed in the following decades and, in parallel, the classical type remained fortified inside its cocoon as described by its opponents. (5) In the eighties, with the coming of Philosophy and the method of Structuralism, nearly twenty years after it was launched in France (its place of origin) and with the influence of the French student movement, prose poetry systematically appeared. The prose poem by Sarah Bernhardt took everyone by storm. Numerous young poets embraced this unique type and it found its own step among those marching on the road of poetry. As an academic from a conservative environment who is occupied with literary history, the theory of poetry and its method and writing, I confess that that the prose poem is the only one that is able to form interlocking techniques in the face of a world drowning in the illusions of its reverie. It is the only one capable of answering the questions of creativity which are, in short, how to avoid repetitiveness and emulation. Lastly, will the readers of those varied poems be able to hear the echo of their historical movement fully or intermittently? Only then will our analysis be of value, otherwise the poems by themselves can say more than what we have said or can say. Professor Malik Al-Muttalibi, a lecturer of Linguistics and Literary Criticism at the college of Fine Art, Baghdad University. 25/2/2012

Badr Shakir Al-Sayyab

The Rain Song

Your eyes are two palm tree forests at early dawn
Or two verandas from which the moonlight recedes
When your eyes smile, the vines put forth their leaves
And the lights dance like moons in a river
Rippled by an oar at an early dawn
As if the stars were pulsating in their depth
And they drown in a mist of sheer sorrow
Like the sea stroked by the hands of the evening
Containing the warmth of winter and the quiver of Autumn
And death and birth, darkness and light
A sobbing flares up to shiver in my soul
And a ferocious elation embracing the sky
An ecstasy of a child scared by the moon
As if arches of mist were drinking the clouds
Drop by drop dissolved in the rain
And the children burst into laughter in the vineyard bowers
The rain song tickled the silence of the sparrows on trees
The evening yawned and the clouds were still
Pouring their heavy tears
As if a child, before sleeping, was raving about his mother
A year ago, he woke up and did not find her
And when he kept asking about her
He was told
After tomorrow she will be back
She must come back
Yet his companions whisper that she is there
Laying dead by the side of the hill
Eating soil and drinking rain
As if a sad fisherman was gathering nets and
Cursing the water and fate
Scattering songs as the moon sets
Do you know what sorrows the rain can prompt?
And how gutters sob when it pours down?
Do you know how lost a lonely person feels in the rain
Endlessly like bloodshed, the hungry, love, children and the dead
It is the rain
Your eyes take me roaming in the rain
Lighting from across the gulf sweeps
The Iraqi shores with stars and shells
As if dawn was about to break from them
As if a sun was about to rise from them
But the night pulls over a coverlet of blood
I call out on the gulf “O gulf
O bestower of pearls, shells and death"
The echo replies as if grieving:
"O gulf
O bestower of shells and death"
I almost hear Iraq massing thunder
And storing lightning in mountains and plains
In order that if the seal were broken by men
The winds would not leave any trace of Thamud in the valley
I almost hear the palm trees drinking the rain
Hear the villagers groan and the immigrants
Struggling with oar and sail
The gulf storms and thunders singing
And there is hunger in Iraq
The harvest scatters the corn in it
The locusts and crows may eat their fill
Granaries and stones grind on and on
Mills turn in the fields surrounded by humans
How many tears we shed when the night of departing arrived
Making the rain an excuse fearing the blame
Since we were children, the sky would be clouded in winter
And the rain would pour down
And every year, when soil becomes green
We starve
Not a year passed and Iraq has not suffered starvation
In every drop of rain
Red or yellow buds of flowers
Every tear shed by the hungry and naked
And every drop of slaves' blood shed
Is a smile awaiting a new mouth
Or a nipple becomes rosy in an infant's mouth
In the young world of tomorrow
Giver of life
Iraq will become green
I call on the gulf: O gulf
O giver of pearls, shells and death
The echo replies as if whimpering:
"O gulf
O bestower of shells and death”
The gulf scatters its plentiful gifts
On the sand: a lather of salty water and shells
And the remains of the drowned forlorn immigrant still
Drinking death
From a fathomless gulf in the silence below
In Iraq a thousand serpents drink
The nectar from a flower, the Euphrates has nurtured with
I hear the echo 
Resounding in the gulf
In every drop of rain
Red or yellow buds of flowers
And each tear shed by the naked and hungry
And each drop of slave's blood shed
Is a smile awaiting a new mouth
Or a nipple becomes rosy in an infant's mouth
In the young world of tomorrow, giver of life
And the rain pours down


Badr Shakir al Sayyab (poet & writer)

Born in Basra, Iraq (1926–1964)

His works include Wilting Flowers (1947), Hurricanes (1948), Flowers and Myths (1950), 
Dawn of Peace (1951) and famous long poems include The Grave Digger (1952), The Blind Prostitute
(1954), The Weapons and the Children (1955), Rain Song (1960), Al-Chalabi's Daughter's 
Shanashil (1964). 

Nazik Al-Malaika I The night asks me who I am I am its deep black anxious secret I am its rebellious silence I masked my true nature with calm And wrapped my heart with suspicion And here I remain distracted I gaze and the centuries ask me Who I am The wind asks me who I am? I am its perplexed soul that time disowned And similar to it I have no place Endlessly, we walk We do not stop, we just pass through And when we reached the turning that we thought was the end of suffering Suddenly it is just void The time asks me who I am Similar to it and as powerful as it, I fold the eras And come back to grant them resurrection I create the distant past From the infatuation of a pleasant hope and Then I go back to bury it To form a new past with An icy future Myself asks me who I am I am as perplexed as it, I gaze at darkness Nothing would give me peace I keep asking And the answer will remain blocked by the mirage And I keep thinking it comes closer And as I reach it, it melts suddenly It fades and disappears * Nazik Al-Malaika (poet, critic and researcher) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1923 – 2007) Her works include Night's Lover (a collection of poetry) (1947), Sparks and Ashes (a collection of poetry) (1949), Bottom of the Wave (a collection of poetry) (1957), Tree of the Moon (a collection of poetry) (1968), A Tragedy of Life and a Song for Humankind (a collection of poetry) (1977), For the prayer and the revolution (a collection of poetry) (1978), Modern Poetry Affairs (1962), The Psychology of Poetry (1993), The Sun that is Behind the Summit (a collection of stories) (1997).
Sargon Boulus The Soldier's Moment That moment that I apathetically pricked sideways, with my rusty spear the side of Christ He who disdained my empire and Rome, all of Rome with a look I am the silly soldier whom history may mention with a word or two Because he insulted the prophet, put his crown of thistles on him and gave him vinegar I am the living worm in the apple of the world * Sargon Boulus (poet, writer& translator) Born in Habbaniyah, Iraq (1944-2007) His works include Reaching the City of Ayn (a collection of poetry) (1985), Life Near the Acropolis (a collection of poetry) (1988), Witnesses on the Banks (autobiography) (1997), An Abandoned Room (a collection of stories), The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (a translated book), If You Were Asleep in Noah's Ark (1998).
Saadi Yousef Had the Night Become Ambiguous to Me? I have nothing to remember tonight I have no truth I mean, I cannot remember where I was born, Whether bread is necessary, or Whether the communism of Mao Tse-tung is the most beautiful Occasionally, we enter a tunnel within tunnels Will we reflect? Maybe it would have been best for us not to go into the first tunnel Maybe it would have been best to shout The communism of Mao Tse-tung is the most beautiful Or the slogan of a demonstration We want bread Maybe I had to remember where I was born I have to say I was born in the south of Basra In a country that used to be called Iraq, in the manuscripts (I do not know how I can call it that, now) I have to say: My blood is for an Iraq that is not governed by the Americans * Saadi Yousef (poet, writer & translator) Born in Basra, Iraq (1934) Place of residence: United Kingdom His works include The Pirate (1952), Songs not for the Others (1955), The Star and the Ash (1960), Visual Poems (1965), Far Away from the First Sky (1970), The Ends of North Africa (1972), Al-Akhdar bin Yousif and His Occupations (1972), Under the Monument of Faieq Hassan (1974), All the Nights (1976), The Last Hour (1977), Less Silent Poems (1979), Poetry Works (1980), Who Knows the Flower? (1981), Mariam Comes (1983), The Spring (1983), Attempts (1990), The Poems of Paris, The Trees of Ithaka (1992), The Lonely Person Wakes Up (1993), Erotica (1994), All the World’s Bars (1995), Naïve Poems (1996), The Bar of the Monkey Thinker (1997), The Memoirs of the Castle’s Prisoner (2000), Candid Live ( 2001), The Fifth Step (2003), The Pagan’s Prayer (2004), My Choices (2007), The Last Communist Enters Havens (2007), The Song of the Fisherman and the Poems of New York (2008), The Poems of the Public Park (2009), The Italian Book of Poetry (2010), In the Wilderness Where the Thunder Is (2010).
Malik Al-Muttalibi The Owl's Nest What is this cold owl in my body's cage The curly owl that wears old women's scents, Women with lost sizes The curly owl Leaves me empty at daytime And perches on me at night The cold owl plucks out my dreams one after another And puts them under its bottom It then sits on them While scanning my body's cage With its night vision
The Language The hag with the white gown And iron teeth That names things? No! A crone with a white gown And iron teeth Does it name things? No It claimed that To cover up its shameful action As all that is assigned to this crone The one with the white gown And iron teeth, Is to give things Equal sizes
The Bell Tolls for the Thousand Deaths The ringing of the bell tickles their backs, they run outside Their leaps break the air Their shoulders, a memory of bags, swaying The sky inclined to one side Giving room to each cradle, walking on the ground The earth is busy trying to catch up with them The parents who stopped breeding Mastered drilling the doors, ready for the roll of the eyes The windows await their stones to begin a new day In the courtyard, the cats of midday utter the meow of desire awaiting their return The ivy becomes overgrown by their glances, looking over the wall at the beginning of the street On the roof, the balls of cotton gathered around themselves and the chopped-off tails of the airplanes and their bodies which were sitting on the ground awaiting their departure to the desired heavens God, were you there when the rain came down? A rain of flowers, ribbons and laughs that did not reach their lips A rain of sentences that lost their way outside their luggage A rain of sellers with half their bodies appearing from the winding wall as it goes round A rain of a nestling fluff, slumbering in their palms A rain of tambourines, the dervishes beat And of iron sheets they clang together As a night banquet was held for the blind, a water banquet for the drowned and a heavenly banquet for the dead It froze in their pupils from the evening of the show till the midday jog outside The rain did not come from above; the sky was a glass with blue veins that stepped aside while looking at its orange Rain came from rain in the colour of the orange sky Then became like a red light Soon it transformed into a purple drizzle with a soft resonance As if it was a bell about to stop God have you seen a rain of children? Have you seen a pool of children with ships of papers sailing in its torrent, descending from their pockets and floating when they dived in the blue blood? * Malik AL-Muttalibi (Arabic language scholar, poet & critic) Born in Missan, Iraq (1941) Place of residence: Baghdad, Iraq His works include The System of Ranking in the Theory of Arabic Grammar (research), Al-Makhzomi and the Modernization of Grammatical Thought (research), The Effect of Translation in the Arabic Language Structure in Light of Theory (research) Hypothesis (combined research), The Concept of the Arabic Linguistic Time as in the Manuscript of the Orientalist Paul Kraus (the system of the verb in the Semitic language) (combined research), The Response of the Arabic Language Towards the Contemporary Challenges (research), The Night’s Shores (a collection of poetry) (1965), What Comes after Death (a collection of poetry) (1979), The Tuesday Mountains (a collection of poetry) (1984), Abu Tamam, (screenplay) (1972), Language and Time (1985), Al-Sayab, Naziq and Al-Bayati, (linguistic study) (1986), The Explanation of Alfiat Ibn Malilk by Ibn Aqeel (combined modern study especially for university students) (1994), Sickly Inanimate (a collection of poetry), The Memory of Writing, Excavations in the Neglected Unconscious (autobiography) (2007), The General Science of Linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure, translated by Dr. Uael Yousif Aziz (a book review) (1985), The Mini Encyclopaedia (the structural analysis of narrative by Roland Barthes, translated by Nezar Sabry) (a book review), Appearances do not Deceive (interpretation of Goethe, translated by Adolf Muschg also translated by Thamir Muhammad Saeid Omar) (a book review) (2005), The Dress, the Body (analysis of Al-Sayab poems), The Illusion of Intuition in the Theory of Poetry (literary criticism), The Mirror of Narration, (a combined study of Mohamad Khudair's stories) (literary criticism, part one) (1990), The Mirror of Narration; Narrative Criticism of Basriatha, the vision of Autumn by Muhamad Khodhier (literary criticism, part two), The Contemplation of the Sacred (a research in sociology of literature, ideology criticism of the Sociologist Ali Alwardi, manuscript).
Kezar Hantush You have to Provide Five Gallows You have to provide another five gallows to please all the sons one gallow for me another for the homeland And three for the strangers Take me to you now Bite my fingers so I can perhaps recover from the thirst of bitter poverty and my longing or be sure that I still love the humble ones The newspaper wept from the end of the front page The newspaper rags disappointed us with what it carried in the Obituaries Perhaps it realized our latest disappointment The disappointment of a poet who read the stand when he did not find the poem * Kezar Hantush (poet& writer ) Born in Diwanya, Iraq (1945-2006) His works include The Red Forest (a collection of poetry) (1988), The Happiest Man in the World (a collection of poetry) (2001).
Muhamad Shamsi Longing O my companions Tomorrow when I go never to return, I knock at the night A bird in the mist I pass before you I talk to you and no one answers back Who would hear the dead at night? Who will call him? Who will wipe away the sorrow from his heart O my companions
Ayandy Like women's tears, he used to flow Like sparrows in a journey to the north, he used to clear the fields Like a delightful rain The earth lies in his voice It stretches, with a fondness for its dry desert. The sea loves its waves and The men love the women One evening, he was A cloud that gathered itself then turned to the house between the fields The trees told it: fading is the beam of light on the luminous fruit The birds on the cliff, quiver from the chill One evening he ran like the tears of women And on the slant of a dagger A cloud slept in the open air Ayandy: a murdered African poet * Muhamad Shamsi (poet, novelist and children's writer) Born in Missan, Iraq (1943-1996) His works include The Roaming of the Sun, (a collection of poetry) (1968), The Blood of the Beach Trees (a collection of poetry) (1976), The Comedy of the Amphibious (novel) (1979) A Thousand Miles inside the Forest, A Hot Land, Strangest Journeys, The Cities' Memories. Children’s books include The Thieves of the Sea (1981), The Mysterious Ship (1983), Night Ghosts (1984), A Trap in the Forest (1984), The Pirate (1984), Princess Scheherazade (a series of children's tales), The Bird’s Revolution (children’s fiction) (1971).
Abdulzahra Zeki The Bodyguard The guard behind me Is also beside me and in front of me The guard who accompanies me, sometimes precedes me And other times tarries Unseen, shadowing me The guard who was born with me Throughout my long sleep, not a moment did he slumber I drank from his glass He ate from my plate He stood between my feet and a road I did not enter He stood between my tongue and words I did not say In war, he stood between my finger and the trigger of the gun That old guard Did not care about the world Still young Occupied with me Wary of me He used to watch me And I used to guard him Frightened that he grew old
The Solitary Daytime On that day the owl was talking about the musk rose on the mountain About the musk rose as it became delighted, in its solitude, with the owl's talk of it On that day There was no longer any musk rose The owl celebrated And the mountain continued, uttering the song of the owl as it talks about the loneliness of the musk rose * Abdulzahra Zeki (poet, writer & journalist) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1955) Place of residence: Baghdad, Iraq His Works include The Hand is Discovering (a collection of poetry) (1995), The Magician (a collection of poetry) (1999), The Book of Paradise (a collection of poetry) (2000), Ram Allah (a collection of poetry) (2001), A Monogram of Light and Water (a collection of poetry) (2009).
Khaza’al Al-Majidi Before the Cruel-Hearted Before the ones with cruel hearts and thick bodies, he stood They came to spoil his eroticism He said to them: I am not suited to be a soldier They invaded his fields, slaughtered his animals and broke his cups And with the nail they hit his right cheek and With the butt of the gun, they hit his left cheek He saw his leaves drag their bark in the mud They tore his wine flask Trifled with his trees and left his home Devastated They took away the patch of his hypostasis Replacing it with the wind * Khaza’al Al-Majidi (poet & dramatist) Born in Kirkuk, Iraq (1951) Place of residence: Holland His works include Delmon’s Wakefulness (a collection of poetry) (1980), Israfil’s Anthems (a collection of poetry) (1984), Kha’zaeel, (a collection of poetry) (1989), The Cane of Rambo (a collection of poetry) (1993), Contrary Physics (a collection of poetry) (1997), Snake and Ladder (a collection of poetry), Maybe Who Knows? (a collection of poetry) (2008), Sumer Travel (1990), Sumerian Tales (1995), The Old Jordanian Mythology (1997), The Roots of the Mandan Religion (1997), Prehistoric Religion & Beliefs (1997), The Incense of Gods (a study in medicine, magic, legend & religion) (1998), The Sumerian Religion (1997), The Bible of Sumer (1998), The Bible of Babylon (1998), The Egyptian’s Religion (1999), The Aramaean Beliefs (1999), The Encyclopedia of Astronomy Throughout History (2001), The Mythology of Eternity (2002), Greek Beliefs (2004), Romanian Beliefs (2005), The History of Old Jerusalem (2005), Isolation in the Crystal (play) (1990), A Diamond Party (play) (1992), Hamlet without Hamlet (play) (1992), The Crow (play) (1992), Short Plays (1993), Scheherazade’s Judgment (play) (1994), The Key of Baghdad (play) (1996).
Kudhayer Meery Furnishing the Sickroom At first sight, they do not seem to resemble flowers at all The music of feet in the adjacent corridor The sound of a heartbeat that no one can hear except patients like us The drowsiness from the anesthetic The smell of iodine as it flies with us and departs with our protective dreams The affection which arrives too late and a state of light madness comes over the obelisk of flowers The stack of repulsive fruit and the boasting of blotting paper There is a back pulled out of someone's body The chemicals of a perfect phrase Days spent imprisoned and restrained from any movement We are annoyed with the excess metal forceps and the intense faces and the unreserved gazes of the nurses who we undress, morning and evening A leg fell from me, a flesh of a calf and a pound of black blood contaminated with my name And a glow of bones which were young before they became old and wrapped with ice Saliva dropped into the plate of soup Under my pillow, a cat meowed and when it jumped out it was distracted It was blood stained Aristocratic, it was, even after stepping out of a massacre * Kudhayer Meery (poet, novelist & critic) Born in, Baghdad, Iraq (1964) Place of residence: Cairo, Egypt His works include The Gardens' Thief (a collection of poetry) (2012), Buddha's Desert (a book of prose) (2009), A Black Bin liner for Rubbish ( a collection of stories) (2009). Jinn, Madness and a Crime (novel) ( 2007), Tales from Alshamaia (a collection of stories) (2006), The Autobiography of a Skull (a collection of stories) (2003), The Days of Madness and Honey (novel) (2000).
Khaloud Al-Muttalibi The Game of Life A clash of metal against my horns The dry hand that pulled me back My brother's feet crush mine Their bodies' heat becomes my hell Before I take my last breath The gate screeches and the field expands My heart leaps with the taste of freedom But my executioner is close behind I stumble before your vicious bark Life's cage narrows when I remember I am the sheep with no name
Ghosts and Poets Digging deadly trenches Preparing for a long war Wars are forlorn As wretched as they are Warning of losses His war Her war It does not matter A woman's ghost A teenager's ghost A child's ghost He was not certain Ghosts cannot speak They cannot feel Nor can they be hurt They pluck out their hearts Before birth, And hang them on their beds Away from dreamers Passers-by or poets Except for those who Eavesdrop * Khaloud Al-muttalilbi (poet & translator) Born in Missan, Iraq Place of residence: England Her published works include Psalms under a London Sky (a collection of poetry) (2010), Under an Icy Sky (a collection of poetry) (2010), and A Portrait of Uruk (an anthology of poems and stories) (2011). She translated Arabic poems into English, for poets from various Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Palestine and Syria. She has also translated literary criticism articles. Khaloud has participated in The Anthology of Contemporary Arabic Poetry as a poet and a translator, published by the Artgate Association in Romania. She has translated selected poems of Klaus J. Gerken as well as numerous modern and classic English and American poems, and a series of classic English poems and commentaries by professor Ian Lancashire (University of Toronto), Canada.
Adnan Al-Saeigh Uruk’s Anthem The labyrinths take me into their darkness ”The thread was cut- Ariadne,[1] who is leading my steps to the door?” I rub my eyes I see my knocks on the door It opened cautiously I find myself mumbling in a panic ”I brought the newspapers my lady, would you like…” ”Leave it at the door.” I wipe a stuttering desire off my lips Going back towards the corridor that separates the two rooms from the sea. From the hole of my soul, I see her strip So I open my fridge And prepare my dinner on my own Cold sausages And a voracious mouth More of the dancing in the air, O my body Maybe the bombs are ashamed of our idolatrous nakedness Before the sad God If the saliva dries, we run to the cliff, to dip the stick of our dreams in its mud Then we sit on the rocks Will it ever be green Bigger than a hole She approaches, the scent of her chest Undulates raunchily Towards the only mirror I hear a mixture of her breath and my panting At the start of dawn his vision suddenly descends upon me Trembling like a morning star I wrap it with my ribs We both disappear in breathlessness The morning grass on the table Becomes wet My coat slumbers on her clothes rail And my tears on her mirror ”Where am I?” I leave the chaotic room wearing my lust I catch the bus and become trapped between her and the luggage She slips into the crowd of commuters. He was trying to touch me with his suspicious fingers He approaches So I split into stale drink and raw desires in his mouth At the start of the bridge, the bus stops, quivering, I flee towards the door. The sun approaches from the buildings’ balconies It dips its feather into the sea And paints your mouth. The sounds of the stubborn roosters fade away I close my books And slumber alone The knocks on the door wake me up ”Who is it?” A fearless mouse leaps near me It gnaws at Al-Muttanabi, and a sack of peas Then it slips into the hole blocking the daylight that was wearing a dusty throw and dancing I shut my eyes, perhaps I see you All that is left for me is the trickle of your glass You are giddy with drink Time went by: Every evening, a boy from the streets brings disorder to the bar And returns late in life To look for a flat And a fixed-up girl But his hands will quiver on the buttons of my shirt And slide on the glass, and when the door was opened The scent flew into the corners And I knew you were coming I said, “This corridor is my ribcage, she will pass through as long as she feels the bushes of my tears grow” She rushes towards me ”O, pauper poet turn around Turn around, a tear, frozen in the evening on the ivory of my breast, proud with perfume I pour my neighing And get drunk on a star which will whisper about your poems” Or a street will bite its finger Regrets Parting with your slow steps Was I delirious to breathe amongst the ruins, this perforated air We hurriedly drink the girls’ brewed tea leaving the rancid trench towards the space of the offices The cannon slowly sips the tea of our life, and dips the cakes of its scales In the distraction of the tinned air between us My language is fragmented And your voice is woven silk Rustling in the wind Has the bombardment quietened down, so I can see my mother come, white And ask about women who become widows in peacetime I write my family history as an orphan should I grew old and did not pay attention to my wrinkles[2] within the mirrors I noticed after breathing a mixture of exile’s air, I grew old and my admonishment with the flute lasted long The way to the pasture of Kanaan became long Weeping prolonged, I said “Nothing wrong with setting up our tents right here until the bombardment quiets down Who will rock your bed my son, in the strange land?” The guards wear the night like a hat, their helmets are the rust of God On my son's skin, I carve my tattoo To grow in his lungs, songs of wounded fields He asks me “Where is the road of the quarantine?” As he seeks refuge in his tear, in the building’s shadow The snakes of longing creep up on me and crush me. Each time I said Ah, the jungle of his moustache grew 1. Ariadne felI in love with Pistiou. She helped him by giving him a ball of fleece, so that he could find his way out of the labyrinth. 2. Quotation from Mahmoud Darwish: We grew old a little and did not pay attention to the wrinkles of the tone of the pipe. * Adnan Al-Saeigh (poet, writer & journalist) Born in Kufa, Iraq (1955) Place of residence: United kingdom His Works include Wait for Me Under the Statue of Liberty (a collection of poetry) (1984), Songs on the Bridge of Kufa (a collection of poetry) (1986), Sparrows do not Love Bullets (a collection of poetry) (1986), Sky in a Helmet (a collection of poetry) (1988), Mirrors for Her Long Hair (a collection of poetry) (1992), Cloud of Glue (a collection of poetry) (1993), Under a Strange Sky (a collection of poetry) (1994), I Got Out of the War Inattentively (a collection of poetry) (1994), Formations (a collection of poetry) (1996), Uruk’s Anthem (a collection of poetry) (1996), Yelling as Big as a Homeland (a collection of poetry) (1998), Carrying an Exile (a collection of poetry) (2001), Works of Poetry (2004), Those Bitter Years and the Other Exile (a collection of poetry) (2006).
Karim Al-Najar Statues The carriage, drawn by an old horse Took away the statue[1] of the man who committed suicide But in the square, the crowd staged a sit-in Erecting their tents in solidarity with the statue Sold by the carriage owner To the smeltery man In return for the horse's fodder What am I going to do with these dolls? Like a wave, I am surrounded by wires It makes me float on an old board What am I going to do with the statues? They hang their insignias Like a one-way road sign What am I going to do with the flower? That mummifies its leaves with wax And melts when touched by my fiery fingers Is it for the dolls, the statues and the flower I mend the tears and prevent my stomach from shouting 1. The statue of Abudlmuhsen Al-Saddon, the first Iraqi prime minister who committed suicide in 1929. * Karim Al-Najar (poet & journalist) Born in Shamia, Iraq (1960) Place of residence: Holland His works include A Country Collapsing Behind its Dimension (a collection of poetry) (1987), That Obelisk (a collection of poetry) (2008).
Abdul- Khalik Kitan The Lake of Blood To the Iraqis in their daily anguish Do you see these torn-off limbs? When every day, the city streets are coloured with blood And old women beat themselves on television While fathers say goodbye to their flesh and blood one by one God do you see these severed members? Do you think of the wisdom behind that? The wisdom of bloodshed Drought And hunger? This country is the icon of affliction Where dictators and adulterers are passing through Each time the same scene is repeated I was hiding behind the window When intimidating soldiers burst into the street Firing heavily at fleeing children Families were barred from weeping The city was considered a frontier Each hour, bodies were brought to its hospitals At first this was done by carefully prepared trucks Year after year Then they were loaded on donkey-drawn carriages What was considered to be a border city became a war front The war consumed uncountable lives Did you see? Where you there? Did you hear the cries of the wounded on the edge of death Then March came A crowd was lined up to be taken captive Cruel headsmen carrying sticks and whips While the crowds were jumping towards the river That swallowed them And even larger crowds were buried on its banks O beautiful river: The companion of the fields and villages Do you remember your dead friends Years pass by; the girls shrivel and lose their youth The poor are ravaged by disease We were looking for a buyer We have sold the house and its slums The milk and silver We have sold and sold At last we sold the head of this body A hand of another A heart, kidney and an eye We sold and sold Until our terrified mother cried There is nothing left at home but the corpses The streets, factories and cafeterias, Were packed with corpses Did not you see all of that? April came Then June With regiments of small men killing the rest None of our older fathers Noble women Or any of our insane Can unravel the mystery of what is happening Those who were robbed of their will; The poor in this vast land Decided to seek you You were the only one to whom they whispered their secrets O God What is your solution? We are tired of what is happening We are no longer able to weep Our voices have been carved out Like the limbs of our men We are tired of the permissible space We create our own story Just like a river And you are the one who makes the wrong decision about When it is going to flood Or dry up * Abdul- Khalik Kitan (poet, writer & journalist) Born in Missan, Iraq (1969) Place of residence: Baghdad, Iraq His works include The Displaced (a collection of poetry) (1998), The Paupers of Baghdad (a collection of poetry) (2000), Waiting in Marion (a collection of poetry) (2000), Dijla Street (manuscript), Delayed Pipes, (a collection of poetry), A Necklace of Violet (a collection of articles).
Faruq Salum Questions for Your Amazing Stillness You take the letter from my hand To paint our silence In the wind, your unrestricted voice keeps pace with the storms of the days It is my sea, ships and my departure It hides the anguish of our warmth when we miss the sanctuary of years Each time I saw the star of our distant sky I believed you were a deadline for another dream Like a start of each day We crossed the distances of sand And spent the whole of sorrow in the middle of the desert A limitless horizon of agony of cruel travel There is no friend to furnish the dust of the road No promise emerges from the grass of thirst Or fire Ascended in an endless spirit’s adventure like a spring We drank the shadows of trees that were absent, in a second of fear As if we did not follow the city's trace, as if it was not the city We left steps that used to be ours We were lost in the middle of the steps of those who got out of the country’s well As if we were drawing a distant house similar to ours over there We are a plant that blossoms then dries A tree that is burdened with vows And a path for the secrets of the companionship of years Love was insufficient to give torment a flavour Love was nothing but anguish for the rituals of our days And we are in a path of impossible salvation Each turn to our corners is a memory of a city or a name of a place All our songs are an attempt to retrieve Fairouze[1] In a second of a morning that had passed Like a nightmare that plucked everything Like a knife at the moment of killing We carry our dreams; a sun searches for a horizon We leave each beginning over there To start again 1. A well-known Arab singer. * Faruq Salum (poet, writer & translator) Born in Tikrit, Iraq (1948) Place of residence: Sweden His works include Rainbow (a collection of poetry) (1977), The Songs of the Horse (children’s fiction) (1980), Gilgamesh Epic (1986), The Girl of Dangers (teenage fiction) (1987), A Tight Shirt for a Fat Daytime (a collection of poetry), other children’s fiction (1977-1988), Details of Our Days (a collection of poetry), Schizophrenia (a collection of poetry).
Shaker Laibi Yousuf Al-Nasser's female neighbours This pampered child relaxing under the sky of Jujube This horseshoe that is thrown under the bed This bough that is crackling with the chair's movement This cat that is sleeping in the dry skin of the red watermelon These female neighbours who do not stop passing through the garden What is this, Yousuf? My ghosts
Van Gogh's eyes The horse straightens its mane and bends, staring at the insect at the petal of a gardenia, rotting in the mud It counted to ten and disappeared behind the fence of jasmine * Shaker Laibi (poet& writer) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1955) Place of residence: Switzerland His Works include The Fingers of Stones (a collection of poetry) (1976), The Heartbreak of the Ruby in the Siege of Beirut (a play) (2003), Seeking Help (a collection of poetry) (1984), A Poem and Twenty Sketches (poetry & sketches) (1988), How (a collection of poetry) (1997), Roots and Wings (a collection of poetry) (2007).
Hassan Blasim A Love Song in a Broken Flowerpot To all my friends in the valley of pain Let you be me consider my circumstances I do not have a choice kill me, please Why do you hate me? Why do you detest me? Why do you loath me? O pain, why do you hate me? I love you and you? Do you know how flowers wither? Your hatred is mysterious You detest me Let you be me Without us flowers shrivel All flowers Your abomination is scented like flowers You detest me as a human being Be like flowers An amazing pain Flowers Flowers Flowers near a patient My flowers My flowers you hate me I am dying in a white garden You hate me like flowers The flowers are drowsy The flowers are sleeping The flowers You detest me Like a dying flower You hate me like a human being flowers flowers O pain please Do not stumble among the flowers The road All of it flowers * Hassan Blasim (poet& writer) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1973) Place of residence: Finland His Works include Poetry Advertisements Must be Bought (a collection of poetry), Madman of Freedom Square (a collection of stories) ( 2009), The Poisoned Shia Child (a collection of stories) (2008).
Hassan Mutlak The Masks The poet is a person who wrote a great poem then lost it Look: “Hegel” is a great man because he lost the philosophy and “Gaston Bashlar” did not find it because he looked at the ceiling upside-down because he thought of the thought because the mockery still stands as they all died Only those Sophists; Men lost the knowledge because they never talked about it They are great as they admitted earlier the voice of the sparrow rises above Aristotle * Hassan Mutlak (poet & writer) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1961-1990) His Works include The Masks, You, the Homeland and I (a collection of poetry) (2004), Alfa-Hassan-Beto (a collection of stories), The Power of Laughter in Ura (novel) (2003), The Book of Love, Their Shadows on the Ground (autobiography) (2006).
Siham Jabbar Branches From a hole in my heart From an escaped pupil From the boring cocoon of recollection In the inside of my head From me From the mathematics of reaching madness And the old luggage of the question In the aspirations of this small head Throwing the wombs away from it From a deep body From the father I used to be Then I was scattered A fetus I chase, and an unreachable point O flying I chase your flight I stare at your narration O earth From your mountains and seas, I cut out gowns O pits I fly O bottom floor From the firefly that Had buried the hole So it flutters From the stiffness of my broken hand So it writes From the creatures that show themselves I show myself, I am Part of me From brushing away a long punishment Between closeness and eccentricity Stopping after continuity And carrying on after an explosion From my forgetfulness about all of that The places got out To my foot The world went out to the pit Here I am Hanging boughs on my body Here I am Over there Here I am Over here * Siham Jabbar (poet & critic) Born in Baghdad, Iraq Place of residence: Sweden Her works include The Poetess (a collection of poetry) (1995), The Group of Mirrors (a collection of poetry) (1995), Bodies (a collection of poetry) ( 2010).
Hameed Qassim Like Someone Climbing a Mountain As I walk Like someone climbing a mountain As Dalia used to whisper to Zahra Fifteen years ago and I do not know I think of the sparrows as they collide With the glass of your narrow halls And say Like them we collide with your glass, and end up like bloody corpses O homeland, Every time we are scattered in the air By your car bombs And I go Like someone climbing a mountain I cross the public park Staring at the women who Take off their clothes because of the awful damp After midnight I go Like someone calmly climbing a mountain Astonished by the wet blotches Left by my shoes Each time I lift a foot off the pavement I go And replace the homeland with the country Like someone climbing a mountain And I say How you pained us oh, pretty cruel country Then I realize the meaning is imperfect As it does not suit you and I, who know your handsome virility And your exciting and mysterious race I have nothing to say except How you hurt us oh cruel, oh handsome country Oh you savage poet Oh homeland As I go Under the severity of the damp Like someone climbing a mountain Covered with a thick dark bush Wetting my shoes and blotching Its suede, I say Oh homeland it saddens me not to love you But what grieves me more Is not to see you and not to be loved by you And you are pushing me away from you Every step I walk on your grass Like someone climbing a mountain And you turn us into Scattered bloody corpses Oh homeland Each time we are dispersed in the air by car bombs We find nothing other than your hard glass To be hit against time after time Like enraged monkeys in a cage Running Like someone climbing a mountain * Hameed Qassim (poet, writer & journalist) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1954) Place of residence: Baghdad, Iraq His works include Anthology of Poetry (2009), This is Also Right (a collection of poetry) (2008), There is No Air (a collection of poetry) (2003), Travels of Fire (a book of criticism) (2000), The Inscription of Aymen (1993), The Green Fingers of My Grand Father (a collection of children’s stories) (1992), The Morning Breeze (a collection of children's poems) (1985), The Mass of the Ageing Childhood (a collection of poetry) (1984), A First Statement for Childhood (novel) (1983).
Muhsin Al-Ramli A meaning A sack of smoke A cigarette I am the ecstasy of a wild dragon A whistle in the sheath of a pistol An ogress in a fairy tale A placenta of the Pisces star sign A rivulet that belongs to no one I am a mistake A route to a pistachio tree An atom No one cares about me I mean I am worth nothing in the language of children But I am everything The whole meaning In my buried mother's language * Muhsin Al-Ramli (poet & writer) Born in Baghdad, Iraq (1967) Place of residence: Madrid, Spain His Works include The Gift of the Next Century (a collection of stories) (1995 ), Papers Far from the Tigris (a collection of stories) (1998), Scattered Crumbs (novel) (2000), We Are All Widowers of the Answers (a collection of poetry) ( 2005), Asleep Among the Soldiers (a collection of poetry) (2011).


Bibliography of the Translator

As a teenager, Khaloud Al-Muttalilbi moved from Iraq to England, where she finished her academic studies and has
lived there ever since. 

Her published works include Psalms under a London Sky (a collection of poetry) (2010), Under an Icy Sky (a 
collection of poetry) (2010), and A Portrait of Uruk (an anthology of poems and stories). She translated Arabic 
poems into English, for poets from various Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Palestine and Syria. She has 
also translated literary criticism articles. Khaloud has participated in The Anthology of Contemporary Arabic 
Poetry as a poet and a translator, published by the Artgate Association in Romania. She has translated selected 
poems of Klaus J. Gerken as well as numerous modern and classic English and American poems, and a series of classic 
English poems and commentaries by Professor Ian Lancashire (University of Toronto), Canada. 


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these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

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