Iraqi poet Muthaffar Al Nawab dies at 88


Muthaffar Al Nawab died Friday at the age of 88.

The revered Iraqi poet reportedly died at Sharjah University Hospital after a long illness.

The novella marks the end of a turbulent life in which his roles spanned from those of teacher, critic and civil servant to prisoner and exile.

Nicknamed the “Revolutionary Poet”, Al Nawab gained most of his fame and notoriety for his poems decrying corrupt regimes across the Arab world.

News of his death prompted colleagues and admirers to take to social media to pay their respects, posting videos and selections of his poetry.

Jordanian poet and novelist Ayman Otoom posted a favorite verse from Al Nawab: “Glory to you and I am satisfied with everything except humiliation”.

Saudi publishing house Adab described Al Nawab’s death as a sad day for all lovers of Arabic poetry.

“The great Iraqi poet Muttaffar Al Nawab died today at the age of 88, after a life full of poetry and political events,” the statement read.

“He suffered from illness for a long time and finally got off his horse, moving at the mercy of God. Condolences to Iraq and to all lovers of poetry in the Arab world.

Born into a wealthy family in Baghdad, Al Nawab showed a talent for poetry from an early age and after graduating from the University of Baghdad he became a teacher.

His left-wing political leanings – he joined the Iraqi Communist Party while at university – landed him in trouble, with Al Nawab eventually fired from his post.

With the growing power struggle between Iraqi nationalists and communists, following the Iraqi revolution of 1958, Al Nawab was arrested and sentenced to death – later commuted to life imprisonment – ​​for a poem published against the nationalist government .

In the 2013 book by Beth K Dougherty and Edmund Ghareeb Historical Dictionary of Iraqhistorians recall how Al Nawab and other inmates managed to escape from the prison by digging a tunnel and fleeing through the swamps.

While Al Nawab’s life was one of constant movement – ​​having lived in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Eritrea – he continued to write and perform his work in the Levant region.

YouTube has numerous videos of his performances, dating back two decades, where he read his poetry to the public, including in a university auditorium in Damascus in 2001.

In 1996 an Arabic collection of his work was published by British publisher Dar Qanbar.

Al Nawab’s life was honored with a colorful mural in Baghdad, commissioned by Baghdad Mayor Alaa Maan.

Al Nawab is one of several murals dedicated to Iraqi notables, including Jawad Salim, considered the father of modern Iraqi art and a famous sculptor, and another to the late world-renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.

Updated: May 20, 2022, 2:03 PM

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