Photo of Saadi Youssef

Saadi Youssef

Saadi Youssef (1934-2021) is considered one of the most important contemporary poets in the Arab world. He was born near Basra, Iraq. Following his experience as a political prisoner in Iraq, he has spent most of his life in exile, working as a teacher and literary journalist throughout North Africa and the Middle East. He is the author of over forty books of poetry. Youssef has also published two novels and a book of short stories, and several books of essay and memoir. Youssef, who spent the last two decades of his life in London, was a leading translator to Arabic of works by Walt Whitman, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Federico Garcia Lorca, among many others. The collection Without an Alphabet Without a Face: Selected Poems (Graywolf, 2003), translated by Khaled Mattawa, offers a wide selection from Youssef's earlier work from 1955 to 1997.