“The Poet of Baghdad”: Nabeel Yasin

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

There’s a real dearth of English-subtitled Arabic poetry recitation on the web; this goes a small way toward righting the balance. It’s interesting to see how poetry is chanted or sung in Arabic, rather than simply read (much less mumbled). Another thing that might be a little difficult for some of us to get our heads around is a poet becoming so popular that he could be branded an enemy of the state, and his works become a relying cry for people opposed to the established order. Such was the case with Nabeel Yasin, Iraq’s most celebrated poet (and last year, an unsuccessful candidate for prime minister), who has been compared to Bob Dylan in his impact on Iraqi society from the late 60s on.

“The Poet of Baghdad” was directed by Georgie Weedon for Al Jazeera, and has just been re-uploaded to YouTube as a single video. The blending of poetry recitation with reminiscence is very effective, I think, and the reflections on exile will probably resonate with emigrants, voluntary and involuntary, from many lands. Al Jazeera posted an interview with the director in early 2010.

One Comment

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    Neil Astley 23 July, 2011

    You might be interested to see this short video (2:28 mins) from a film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce of Taha Muhammad Ali – the poet of Nazareth – reading his poem ‘Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower’ in Arabic, and then Peter Cole reading his English translation:
    http://www.vimeo.com/1092036
    Poet and translator have an almost symbiotic relationship which comes over even in their reading of just one poem with its translation.

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