The Iraqi Poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab

[Note: This is the tenth 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 #9

My Dear Brother Yusuf (al-Khal) (1)

I hope you and the rest of our brothers are well. I have a Lebanese friend, the Adunisian poet, Basim Shawqi al-Salmaan (2). He is currently unemployed. You know him well for he lived in your house for a few days last summer. He then moved to Adunis’ house. He also published many poems in your journal, “Shi’r:” “Jaikur and the City,” “The River and Death,” and “Christ after Crucifixion.”

He now intends to return to Lebanon. Will he be able, with your help, to obtain a job that allows him to adequately earn a living for himself, his wife, his sister, and his two children? He can work as an instructor of English or Arabic language. He can also work in journalism or do translations.

I hope for a speedy response to this letter.

Badr al-Sayyab

My address is: Baghdad- al-A’thamiya- Haybat Khatun, House Number 47 A-3.

(1) This letter was sent undated. It probably goes back to the year 1959.
(2) The poet here is referring to himself. It seems he wrote this letter under very complicated circumstances because he was separated from his job for political reasons as a result of his disagreement with the Communists.

[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. 134) Translated from the original Arabic and with an introduction by George Nicolas El-Hage, Ph.D., Columbia University.]