[Note: This is the eighth in a series of translations of selected letters of the noted Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. For more information on the poet, click here.]

Letter #7 2/18/1957

Directorate of Public Trading, Baghdad

My Kind Brother, the Soaring Poet, Mr. Yusuf al-Khal,

Sweet greetings. I have received all four of your letters, but only laziness has caused me to postpone responding to them day after day.

In the month of September I was in Beirut, and I searched for you a lot, but to no avail. I sat at Faisal Restaurant across from the American University, and I roamed the university, but I was not lucky enough to see you or two other brothers whom I was anxious to meet, Khalil Hawi and Munah Khoury.

Enclosed with this letter, you will find my poem with a brief biography as you have kindly requested. I certainly hope that this poem and letter are but the beginning of many others between us. I have known you for a long time now since many of your students at the American University have told me about you. I believe it’s been about ten years now. Since that time, I have also read your splendid poetry book, “I Am All That I Pretend to be.” I have even memorized some of your poems which combine both the intellect and emotion. These poems could be called two dimensional… they belong to the kind of poetry that we are in dire need of in the middle of this flood of superficial poetry.

I have not seen “Shi’r” magazine yet… I hope that I will soon.

In closing, I wish you and the family of “Shi’r” a long and happy life.

Take care of yourself.

Faithfully yours,
Badr al-Sayyab

[From the book, al-Sayyab’s Letters, by Majid al-Samurra’i, (Beirut: Al-Mu’assasa al-‘Arabiya li-al-dirasat wa-al-Nashr, Second Edition, 1994, p. 129) Translated from the original Arabic and with an introduction by George Nicolas El-Hage, Ph.D., Columbia University.]