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was born near Basra, Iraq, in 1934. He started writing poetry at the age of seventeen and has published thirty-two collections, a volume of short stories, two novels, several essays, and four volumes of his collected works. Twice exiled from Iraq, he has lived in many countries before settling in the UK. He has translated major international poets from English into Arabic, including Walt Whitman, C. P. Cavafy, Yannis Ritsos, Federico Garcia Lorca, Vasco Popa and Ungaretti, as well as novels by Ngugi wa Thiongo, Wole Soyinka, Nourridine Farah, George Orwell and David Malouf. His first major English collection Without an Alphabet, Without a Face, trans. Khaled Mattawa, was published in 2002 by Graywolf Press, USA.
Saadi Youssef has lived nearly half his life outside Iraq, but rejects the label of exile in favour of resident of the world, which allows him the independence of mind he requires for writing freely. Since the mid-1970s he has been, and still is, hugely influential among younger generations of Arab poets through his way of writing, and as a man with a life-long commitment to justice and human rights. He is a “poet of universality and multiple open visions” noted Lebanese poet Abbas Beydhoun, “enabling us to discover the poetics of the real world”.
First major collection of Saadi Youssef's work,
translated by the poet Khaled Mattawa, is
Without an Alphabet, Without a Face
Newly published is Yair Huri's
The Poetry of Sa'di Yusuf
Between Poetry and Exile