Nazik al-Malaika and the search for the self poetry
Iraq, Literature, 4/16/1998
Renowned Arab poet Nazik al-Malaika was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1923, oldest among her four sisters and two brothers. She got her baccalaureate in 1939. In her early teens she showed great love for the Arabic language, history and music. In 1944, she graduated from the Baghdad faculty of letters, Arabic department with honors. Um Nizar, Nazik's mother, was herself a poet, and her father was a teacher of Arabic grammar in Baghdad secondary schools. He left a twenty volume encyclopedia on Arabic grammar and literature.
Nazik 's readings in philosophy helped her acquire a dialectical thinking and ideology.
At an early age, she showed inclination to modern Arabic poetry written by Muhammad Hassan Ismael, Badawi al-Jabal Besharael - Khouri, Omar Abu Resheh and many others. For Nazik, the year 1941 was to mark the beginning of her social and spiritual maturity. Added to these it was a year of great national revolt for the Iraqis when the national revolution led by Rasheed al-Kilani was launched.
In 1947 Nazik published her first collection of poems under the title "Night's Lover." For poet Nazik "night" was the symbol of poetry, imagination and dreams, beauty of the stars, wonder of moon lights and the glimmering of the Tigris river under light. She was fascinated by the songs of Egyptian singers Um Kalthoum and Abdul Wahab.
On Friday January 27, 1947, she got up in the morning to hear on the radio a report on the number of Cholera deaths reported each day in Egypt. One thousand deaths of cholera per day made the poet write her well-known poem "The Cholera." It reads "Night came to a standstill listen to the echoes of wails in the dark of night, under silence and on corpses death, death, death humanity laments."
In 1949 Nazik published her second collection, entitled "sparks of ashes" prefacing it with a theory of new poetry metrics.
Two years later, the poet had won fame outside Iraq. She read English literature and the French literature as well. She studied Latin and leant by heart long poems of well-known ancient Greek poets. In 1951 she traveled to the US where she studied literary criticism and in 1954 she also went back again to the US to study "comparative literature."
Her third collection, entitled "Bottom of the Wave" was published in 1957. The July 14, 1958 revolution was a great source of inspiration not only to the Iraqi people but also to the poet when in a poem she expressed the people 's happiness saying:
The happiness of children when, embraced by parents is like
the happiness of a thirsty man when drinking water
The happiness of July when flirting with cold winds is like the
happiness of night when it gives to the stars and the birth of the Republic.
In 1962, the poet published her first book on literary criticism entitled "Issues of Contemporary Poetry." He fourth collection of poems under the title "Tree of the Moon" was published by the beginning of 1968.
In 1970 she wrote a long poem under the title "The Tragedy of Life and a Song for Man."
Her poems written in 1973 published under the title "For Prayer and Revolution" and poems written in 1974 were published under the title "The Sea Changes its Colors."
The poet resides in Iraq and travels to the US frequently.
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