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He was a pioneering Iraqi poet, who together with Badr Shakir al-Sayyab and Nazik al-Malaika broke the boundaries of poetic form to establish Arabic free verse. He was born in Baghdad, and published his first poetry collection in 1950, the year he graduated in Arabic Language and Literature. In 1953 he co-founded the magazine Al-Thaqafa al-Jadida [New Culture]. He was forced to leave Iraq in 1955, returning only after 1958. He published more than 20 collections of poetry as well as a three-act play, and poems by Paul Eluard and Louis Aragon, which he co-translated with Ahmed Morsi.