Adnan al-Sayegh

Adnan al-Sayegh was born in al-Kufa, Iraq in 1955.

One of the most original voices of the generation of Iraqi poets that came to maturity in the 1980’s, his poetry, sharp & crafted with elegance, carries an intense passion for freedom, love and beauty. His words denounce the devastation of wars and the horrors of dictatorship, but also act on quieter and more personal levels. In the 1980’s he was conscripted in the Iran-Iraq war and in 1993 his uncompromising criticism of oppression and injustice led to exile in Jordan and the Lebanon. In 1996 he published “Uruk’s Anthem” – a book-length poem, one of the longest in Arabic literature – in which he richly articulates deep despair at the Iraqi experience. On its publication he was sentenced to death in Iraq and took refuge in Sweden. Since 2004 has been living in exile in London.

Ten collections of his poetry in Arabic, among them, “Formations”, “Uruk’s Anthem” and ”Carrying his Exile under his Arm” have been published and a further one is in press. The poems we have translated recognise the trajectory of his exile and the concerns of his life.

Adnan al-Sayegh has received several international awards, including the Hellman-Hammet International Poetry Award (New York 1996), the Rotterdam International Poetry Award (1997) and the Swedish Writers Association Award (2005). His poetry has been translated into many languages and he is frequently invited to take part in poetry festivals around the world.

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