Youssef, Saadi 1934-

views updated

Youssef, Saadi 1934-


Born 1934, near Basra, Iraq.


Home—London, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Graywolf Press, 2402 University Ave., Ste. 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114.


Has worked as a teacher, journalist, publisher, translator, and political activist.


Without an Alphabet, Without a Face: Selected Poems,translated by Khaled Mattawa, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2002.

Also author of books in Arabic, including 51 Poems,1958. Contributing editor, Banipal.


Iraqi-born Saadi Youssef began writing poetry in his native Arabic when he was only seventeen years old. He went to school in Bara and Baghdad, and became an educator and literary journalist, in addition to continuing his poetry. In 1979, he left Iraq because of his communist beliefs, and, after living briefly in Syria, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Yemen, France, Jordan, and Algeria, eventually settled in London. He is the author of more than thirty volumes of poetry, as well as novels, short stories, and an assortment of essays, almost all of which are in his native Arabic. In addition to his own writing, he has translated the works of many major authors from the original English or English translations into Arabic, including Walt Whitman, C.P. Cavafy, Yannos Ritsos,Federico Garcia Lorca, Vasco Popa, George Orwell, David Malouf, and V.S. Naipaul. His own poetry has been translated into several languages, as well, including French and English. Mining his own personal experiences, he writes poems with strong themes of cultural dislocation and self-imposed exile. Laurance Wieder, in a review for Books & Culture, wrote of Youssef's work: "Even in translation, an honest intelligence shines through." The critic compares Youssef's verse to American writers such as Allen Ginsberg andWalt Whitman. Amanda Laughtland observed in theProgressive: "Youssef writes lyric poems in which personal and sociopolitical life collide."



Books & Culture, September-October, 2003, Laurance Wieder, "After Babel," review of Without an Alphabet, Without a Face: Selected Poems, p. 8.

Progressive, March, 2003, Amanda Laughtland, review of Without an Alphabet, Without a Face,p. 44.

Publishers Weekly, November 25, 2002, review ofWithout an Alphabet, Without a Face, p. 59.

World Literature Today, autumn, 2000, Marilyn Booth, "Loin du Premier Ciel," p. 904.


International Literary Festival of Berlin, 25, 2006), biographical information on Youssef.

Poetry Center at Smith College, 25, 2006), biographical information on Youssef.

Words without Borders, 25, 2006), biographical information on Youssef.

About this article

Youssef, Saadi 1934-

Updated About content Print Article