The Iraqi Poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab

[Note: This is the 14th 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 #14

Basra 12/18/1961

My Dear Brother, Abdel Karim (al-Na’im),

I see you blaming me for the disruption of correspondence between us. However, I was the last one to send you a letter right before my departure for Italy………….. [paragraph omitted]…..

The Arabic Literature Conference in Rome was extremely successful. We have succeeded in making the West understand that the Arab writer today stands among the first rate writers of the world. Some voices were raised in an attempt to undermine the value of Islam and the Arabic literary heritage. However, we silenced these voices. Moreover, all the Orientalists, who have been more zealous about our cause than the protégés of Arabic literature, have supported Arabism and Arabic literature.

I apologize for not being able to fulfill your request by sending two copies of “Withered Flowers” and “Myths.” There are no copies available even for my personal use.

Perhaps I may be able to visit Syria this summer. Where will you be then? I mean during summer vacation? I miss you. In conclusion, take care of yourself for the one who holds for you all the love and respect.

Yours sincerely,
Badr Shakir 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. 174) Translated from the original Arabic and with an introduction by George Nicolas El-Hage, Ph.D., Columbia University.]