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Difficult variations: Saadi Youssef’s impossible returns

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This article traces the dialectics of exile and return in some of the late poems Saadi Youssef, the most important Iraqi poet in the last half century and one of the pioneers of modern Arabic poetry. It pays particular attention to the effects the Anglo-American invasion of 2003 and the disintegration and dismemberment of Iraq on Youssef’s poetic discourse and the ways in which he attempts to reconstruct and represent a vanishing homeland and articulate his relationship to its landscape. It addresses Youssef’s poetic conversations with Muammad Mahdīal-Jawāhirī (1899–1997), another great Iraqi poet who, like Youssef, lived much of his life exiled from Iraq.
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Keywords: Banipal; Ba’th Party of Iraq; Iraqi Communist Party (ICP); Mahmoud Darwish; Muammad Mahdīal-Jawāhirī; Saadi Youssef

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York University

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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