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New - Poems EXTRA - Poems In Arabic From Different Periods

Looking in old papers and files I came across a file titled "Poems for Publishing". These are poems in Arabic, some typed, some hand-written, which I had selected for publishing few years ago but never sent them out. They are selected from various unpublished complete collections. Although some were written twenty years ago, they are still waiting for my negligent soul to move and publish them.

Please find the first scanned and uploaded poems in the section titled "Poems-EXTRA" (above).
I have no time to write them in the computer, therefore, I am scanning and publishing them gradually as images.

Please visit frequently. I am always adding new poems.

At the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Baghdad, 1962 or 1963

Standing from r. to l.: Mahdi Mutashar (painter, from Al-Hilla, now in France), Yahya Ash-Sheik (painter and sculptor, from Al-Imara or Baghdad, now probably in Iraq or Syria), Ali Talib (painter, from Al-Basrah, I dont know his current whereabout). I do not remember the names of the others. Sitting, from r. to l.: Anwar Al-Ghassani. I dont remember the names of the other three.

I am sitting in the garden of the villa that was then the Academy of Fine Arts in Al-Iwadhiya district of Baghdad. The garden extended some hunderd meters and reached the bank of the Tigris river. The students in the photo were all of the first year of the painting section in 1962-1963. Missing from the photo are: the late Layla Al-Attar (1940-1993, painter, died on June 27, 1993, together with her husband and housekeeper during a US missile attack on Baghdad), Saida Al-Assmar (a Palestinian, I dont know her current whereabout), Shaker Hamad (painter, from Al-Imara, I dont know his current whereabout), and Sawsan (painter, I dont know her current whereabout).

The photo dates to the period of September 1962 - January 1963. Those were the first months of the first year of my study of painting at the Academy. I was happy since I had finally, after waiting for seven years, achieved enrollment at the university. Although literature was my preference, I was happy with painting, my second preference.
This calm, indeed serenity in the photo, will soon change. on February 8, while we were in our short two weeks winter holiday, the Baath party overthrew the military regime of General Abdulkarim Qassim, who was executed together with his closest aides. A violent campaign of summary executions, arrests and confinement of thousands of people in concentration camps followed. It would last until November of that year when a new coup detat would remove the Baath party from power.

When we returned to the Academy after the winter holidays, students who were Baath party members started arresting leftist students. Then we were told that we would be leaving the villa and would have lectures and workshops at the old Institute of Fine Arts. There, one day in March, I was arrested by the National Guard (the Baath militia) unit at the Institute and sent to the Olympic Club which the Baathists had converted it to a detention center. Later, I will discover that two reactionary Turcoman students from my hometown Kirkuk at the Institute were the ones who denounced me as a communist. That was the start of my detention for eight months in different places. I was finally sent to Kirkuk where I stayed in detention until the Baath was removed from power. I was released on bail and went back to Baghdad. At the Academy, the Baathists were still there and the atmosphere was still hostile. I decided to give up my study and went to work in the press as a translator and editor. Later in 1964, I had to stand trial at the Fourth Military Court in Kirkuk. With the help of a high officer, a distant relative, I was finally acquitted and released.

Back to the photo: I clearly remember the names of my co-students who mattered to me and I have forgotten the names of the rest. There is something strange about me in the photo. I am the only one formally dressed, sitting there, busy doing something as if the photo and the people around me didnt interest me. I am immersed in my "world". It is perhaps because of this character feature that others considered me a somehow inaccessible person. Decades later, one of my students when interviewed about me would say she thought I was a mysterious person. Honestly, there is nothing mysterious about me. Admittedly, I have always been choosy and demanding. I never or rarely wasted time on persons and issues that were of little value. Some people thought I was too strict and lacked spontaneity. I think that is a misperception.

A New Poem

I Still Love Iraq; It seems I Am A Person Of Culture

For Farouq Salloum
Remembering engineer Baha Naji


I read of the engineer whom they assassinated,
the one who wanted to repair As-Sarrafiya bridge in Baghdad.

I am now a grown up man
and know people die on each second on the planet,
yet the years pass by
and the silent blood stream
in the streets of Iraq never dries up,
and the dead are piled up at street corners,
deformed bodies whose frozen cries
are of a past that is present
at the kitchens in Iraqi homes.
Some dead keep floating
on our helpless rivers,
with mouths open,
thirsty for air.

Is this real or only words?
Are these images from a life gone by long ago,
or from dreams, despised and difficult to write about?

I am lost, but in the realm of the dead,
I collect my self, suppress my cry
and soundlessly think:

I love Iraq.
I still love Iraq.
If that is true,
then it follows that I am a person of culture.

San Jos, April 09, 2009

The New Iraq - Death in August - Death in Date Palm Trees Orchards

A Fragment

Friday, August 22, 2003

Beautification After My Birth At Ur

Original Arabic text of the poem Recital of the Spanish version (video)
English and Spanish translations Watch More Poetry Videos

Language for LVT

Watch More Poetry Videos Comments

Hurrah ! I found My "Lost" Epic

Finally, I now know where to find my book "Al-Iraq", my epical poem about Iraq.

This book consists of one epical poem of 96 pages which I wrote in Arabic in 1991 during the first Gulf War. The poem was published in 1992 by Riad El-Rayyes Books (London, Limasol, Beirut). At that time, the publishers sent me $300 and 20 copies of the book. After its publication, there were some very positive reactions from critics with the exception of one who wrote a stupid thing, not about the poem but about me. He blamed me for being too optimistic about Iraq !!!

And that was that. Since then, I never again heard a word about the poem, neither from scholars, critics or readers, nor from the publishers. The poem faded into oblivion in the mostly phlegmatic and superfial poetry appreciation in the Arab World.

Last year, I found a reference to the book under my name at amazon.com. The book was described as being out of print.

This went on until yesterday, October 28, 2008, when, by pure coincidence, I came across a Lebanese book vendor website, neelwafurat.com, where I found the book listed for sale.

Sixteen years after its publication the poem is still available in its first edition/ printing. It seems Arabic poetry readers havent been queuing to buy the poem that carries, at least since 2003, the name of a modern Arab tragedy. This is the state of low appreciation for serious poetry in the Arab World that never seizes to praise itself as a world of poetry lovers and expresses solidarity with Iraq day in day out, but when it comes to translating this into a small action, like buying a poem about the Iraqi tragedy, well, no, that is then too much an effort. I am generalizing, yet I do believe the Arab World deserves such a harsh judgement. However, I do see also the exceptions, there are exceptions to this in the Arab World.

Incredible! I couldnt believe it. The site offers the book in this funny way: market price: $3, our price. $2.55. Oh, god, imagine this miserably low price. In December, I am planning to buy some 20 copies. Before that I will write to Neel wa Furat to thank them for reviving my hope and giving visibility to my book.

Click to see the book at Neel Wa Furat

Cover of "Al-Iraq"

A New Poem

Why have you forgotten Fellini?

Federico Fellini (1920-1993),
one of the most revered and influential
film-makers of the 20th century.

Have you forgotten
his mechanical bird,
clapping wings
and shouting, coo, coo, coocoo !
Always ready,
in permanent intercursus
with the world.

That is all what we need:

A bird clapping wings,
saying, coo, coo, with delight,
whenever we attain
success or reach a climax;
and then, from there,
we move to the next lovers den.

O, mechanical bird
of my childhood,
of rigid wooden wings,
making: clip, clap, clip, clap !;
That is what I always wanted
my fine mechanical toys,
my poems,
to be, and to do.

San Jos, Friday, October 17, 2008

At the workshop - A new essay in Spanish:
The Mother of the Poet / La madre del poeta

This sweet photo from 1940 or 1941 is the starting point for an essay I am writing in Spanish. Tentative title "The Mother of the Poet" or "The Poet and his Mother" (La madre del poeta o el poeta y su madre).

In the photo, from l. to r.: my mother Munira Sayyed Tahir carrying my brother Farouq, then myself carried by my uncle Ahmad Sayyed Tahir.
The photo was made in 1940 or 1941 at my birthplace Qal´at Salih, in the southern Iraqi province of Al-Imara, probably a year or so before my family moved for good to the norhern Iraqi province of Kirkuk.

At the time of this photo, my mother was a 25 years old young mother. My brother Farouq, 1 year old, I was 3 years old and my uncle (in scouts unifrom) probably 12-13 years old.

The essay starts with a detailed description of this photo. After that it explores the relation between me and my mother throughout her life and until her death in 1973, partly as mother and son relation, but above all as a relation between the poet and his mother. Furthermore, I will try to describe and understand her life and, I hope, I will be able to create a lasting monument for her as a great mother.

Anwar Al-Ghassani

Four of my Spanish Poems
in an Argentinian Anthology

Four of my poems written in Spanish were included In "Yaaa Aliii", an anthology of contemporary Iraqi poetry, published by Clase Turista, Buenos Aires. Although the anthology was published in 2006, I was only able to buy it and get it delivered in September 2008. (Please find below more details about the poems and the book.)

The cover, handicrafted as an envelope.
Stamps on the cover. The one to the right carries the image of the late King Ghazi (1912-1939). The stampt was issued during the years of his rule (1933-1939). The other stamp dates to 1966. It carries this information "The Arab International Tourist Union, Baghdad 1966". It was probably issued on the occasion of a congress in Baghdad.
The stamps are originals. They are not reproductions.
Herencia (Heritage) one of my four poems published in the anthology. The poem is dedicated to my mother Munira Sayyed Tahir (1915-1973). The other poems are: Jk, Teniente Salah Jamil - un épico ( Lieutenant Salah Jamil - An Epic), Balance después del desastre (Stock-Taking After the Disaster).

The other participating poets are: Nedhal Abbas (4 poems), Sinan Antoon (3 poems), Adeeb Kamal Ad-Deen (1 poem), Adnan Al-Sayegh (1 poem).
All poems were written in Arabic, translated to English and then to Spanish except the poems of Anwar Al-Ghassani which were written in Spanish.

------ (2006): Yaaa Aliii - pequeña antología de poesía iraquí contemporánea. Buenos Aires: Clase Turista, 46 páginas.

For more information and / or to buy the book (price: $8.90, however if you want it to be delivered by DHL as I did, the cost, as expected, will jump to about $50. For me it was more than worth it. It is a nice and elegant book of good poems):

Clase Turista Publishers (info about the publishers)
Dos Fuerzas Books (where you may buy the book)

Der Darss

Der Darss

Shafts of light in a cathedral of trees,
columns, planes and arches, dark surfaces,
beetles with crimson shields.

The trees are comprehensible in terms of others:
those electrified, wounded, somnolent, vivacious,
and those hospitable trees.

We arrive at men and women,
counterfeited in stone and sinking.
Soon the nearby sea will take them to his garden.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
(A section from the long poem "ID", 1998)
Der Darss: The Darss peninsula, Germany.

Como llama blanca


Como llama blanca (Anwar Al-Ghassani, Irak)

(Texto del Festival /YouTube)
Memoria del Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín. Anwar Al-Ghassani Qal'at Saleh, Irak, 1937. Creció en la provincia de Kirkuk, el primer y más viejo centro petrolero de Irak. Trabajó en la exploración de petróleo y como maestro de educación artística, para pasar a desempeñarse en Bagdad como traductor y periodista. En 1968 salió del país para estudiar en Alemania, donde obtuvo un doctorado en periodismo de la Universidad de Leipzig. Llegó a Costa Rica en 1979 y regresó a Alemania, posteriormente trabajó también en Argelia para luego, en 1984, radicarse definitivamente en Costa Rica. Cofundador de uno de los grupos literarios más influyentes en la poesía Iraquí y árabe actual, el Kirkuk Group, surgido en los años 50 en la ciudad multiétnica de Kirkuk.

La calidad del sonido y de video no es para decir que bruto, pero estoy muy agradecido a los amigos de la revista Prometeo y del Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín por poner este video en YouTube.
Este poema fue escrito en árabe. Su título "Embellecimiento después de mi nacimiento en Ur" pero ya lo pusieron otro título "Como llama blanca" que me parece bonito.
La lectura se llevó a cabo en una linda sala de cultura en una calle principal, una tarde en la bella Medellín.

Anwar Al-Ghassani

N E W The Jimi Hendrix Poem (second and final version)

Jimi Hendrix slumbering. To the right, a detail from the cover of his 1968 album Electric Ladyland, the final album of the series "The Jimi Hendrix Experience".

Jimi Hendrix

(James Marshall Hendrix 1942- 1970)

His music is suspicious knowledge,
smashed at our ears
to maintain us alive till next morning;
sunken vessels, separated, each in a region.

Dreams to pay for,
no celebrations,
ancestral pain, offered
as equilibrium

on roads where we inquire:
Did they already eat?

And they, only on casual encounters, ask:
O, why the separation?

For no purpose or reason;
our lives wouldnt be spared
if we kept silent.

Roads dont bring the child home;
they overlap and change
as they extend to where values
we cherish and die for
are equalized:

Only the eye,
is image trap and scream
that displays
a hazy white landscape.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
San José, September 30, 2000 / August 15, 2008

NEW --- Poem in Arabic, just uploaded
"Elegy of Ibrahim Zair"
* Source:
(Unveiling The Voice within The Noise) - Collection - Arabic - 1993

Page - 1 Page - 2 Page - 3 Page - 4

My dearest friends, Ibrahim Zair (1943?-1972) - right -, poet, journalist, graphics designer and painter, and Sargon Boulus (1943-2007) - left -, one of the greatest poets of modern Iraqi and Arabic poetry. The photo was made in an art exhibition in Baghdad in mid sixties.
Sargon Boulus (left) and Ibrahim Zair (right)

Encroachment In Green

- Sumerians abandoning Ur -

Flight in white-washed vacuum,
a passage through a region in which
they might crash and die or lose limbs.
They know, they are travelling
to the site of their new nest and years
will come and go and the fire
in their memory has long ago consumed
wood and silicon in Ur. There will
be no fresh construction. The earth
is here and alive are the hills.

They see leaves, layers of cellulose,
pierced by sunlight or protected in gray,
spotted, exhibitionists,
some entire, others threaded by the wind,
exposing graduations of green and brown,
and some dry, about to become dust,
not premeditatedly placed
as if by a spirit that left them untagged
to be presented as a gift to whoever passes by.

Huge flowers of four dimensional petals, solidified starch, extravagant,
freshening up their outdated sense for procreation.
They harvest some and bring them to an altar. They project them on a screen and observe the nectar dripping from their voluminous violet conic crowns.

They watch, minds fogged by humidity and heat, bodies warm,
secreting a sweet fragrance. Then the protocol master, agitated by intense illumination, would scream: "You sinners! You bandits!", then waves of screeching music dashes out into the dry night.

They harvest the sounds. So much meaning pertains to the chaos. They clinch to their illusions, their only knowledge and shelter. "O, night followed by tender early morning hours", they say, "we have not yet written our farewell from our beloved land. We yet have no tears. Our love is stable and stony for thee our land."

In the night they can not fathom, they snatch their souls from profane concrete and the
embroidery of chromatic steel, outmaneuver them from these plains of screams where fires and flames are dropping on agonizing souls of creatures born without the explicit will of a creator. They fly away into a denser light, to a spacey region where they finally find food.

More follow them, strangers
who are shy and when they
look at them, they say,
Excuse our eyes.
They tell the newcomers,
Sit here for a while and
be at ease and then leave in
silence. Walk over
the threshold, don't fear the
night. Be aware of those
purposelessly uttered
voices, driven by the
ancient desire to be present,
to be heard and responded to.

San Jos, Saturday, July 8, 1995

Surviving Yourself

Now you are not the same image-dream,
the prohibited, untouchable, my addiction.

At first sight, I had to reject
the new being you became
as you approached independence.

I recall your coarseness,
cynical remarks,
your umbrella,
the showy protection
of my head and shoulders;
your playful breasts,
your stature, none of your choice,
just given and made yours,
your motherly air,
pretension of capacity,
of absolute readiness.

You alluded to a missing invitation,
a reunite, an eliminator of minds despair.
You wanted to vanish,
just for a while, and receive me in you,
make the silent transition for both.

That was your reinvention of us.
All signs of your innocence;
all your newly acquired language,
dumb call heralding a premonition,
undefined in the sweetness of your presence.

San Jos, Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Roses of Iraq

Burning in winter
as cold wind cuts the skin of little hands.

Refuge of souls wandering on plains,
touched by the frosty wind of sun.

Cherished gardner property,
wasted blood, spring water, mourning.

San Jos, Wednesday, October 14,1998

Goddess Samia Gamal
(Egyptian belly dancer, 1924 1994)

Sie schafft ein immer lebendiges Bild von sich selbst.

(Anspielung an einem Satz von italienischen Architekten Carlo Ratti ber Städte die sich ständig dynamisch ändern.)

Our gatherings to watch
her matter and light
transform to body and movement,
were never trivial events.
The to and fro of her body,
within time continuum,
was the pendulum of daily life.

On all days, when we rubbed her skin,
we obtained her adolescent aroma.
Exhibitionist of her body,
her gaming alluded
to virtual regions, her potentials,
solely attainable in dreams,
or as a package of godly bliss,
maintaining alive
the collective joy of our days.

She knew, seas and cities need our gifts;
thus her shoulders rocked seas and cities,
offering them our brotherhood.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
Berlin, Sunday, May 25, 2008

Click to view video - 1
Click to view video - 2
Please note that of video 1 only the first half is about Samia Gamal. Both videos are of moderate quality (what is available on You Tube). I hope I can get some videos of a superior quality at some point in time.

NEW --- More Poems In Arabic Uploaded

I am now uploading more poems in Arabic from the 1993 unpublished collection "Anashidul Ruh Al-Iraqia Al-Haiema" (Cantos Of The Errant Iraqi Soul)

The background story:

Due to my negligence and publishing difficulties this collection, written in 1993, remained sleeping among my papers during fifteen years. I didnt even try to publish individual poems from the collection (perhaps with the exception of one or two).
I have now decided to do justice to the poems and publish most of the collection here at my Website until I have enough money to publish it as book on demand as I did with my recent collection "Second Patria" (see below on this page), or until some philanthropist comes along and volunteers to finance the publication of the collection.

Due to temporary difficulty with editing Arabic texts, I am scanning the poems and uploading them as images. Please use the zoom device to enlarge the text if necessay.
Finally, without intending to be pretentious, I consider these poems as fairly good, something I do not easily and always state about my poems. Please read and decide for yourself.

Click here to go to the Poetry Section, there click on the name of the collection under "Poems in Arabic - II"

NEW --- Poem from 1992 in Arabic just uploaded
"Sojourn At The Beach In Varna - Humorous And Entertaining For My Friends"
Humorous poem, a homage to my friends
Page - 1 Page - 2 Page - 3 Page - 4

Second Patria - Poems - Recently published

46 poems, 76 pages, written in English about German themes.
Published by Book Surge Publishing.

Cover design: Manuel Salam Al-Ghassani Rodríguez
Cover drawing: Remembering Varna - Figures at the Beach, 1988, by Anwar Al-Ghassani
(original: 21x27cm, watercolor pencils and China ink)

The collection is now available ($10.99) at:

Description: Poems written in English by Iraqi poet Anwar Al-Ghassani as an homage to Germany, his second homeland, where he lived, studied and worked during three periods between 1967 and 1983. Those were years of his emotional and intellectual maturing and growth, of creative and happy times. They were also his years of the motorcycle and of explorations. These poems are also about reminiscences and about his almost yearly visits to Germany. They are about wonderful people, friends and places. Al-Ghassani writes poetry in Arabic, English, German and Spanish.

Read a sample of three poems

Chinese Nude
Nameless tree
in the umbrage of dawn.
O, no milk smell yet,
only the promise of lips.


All is service to my nerves

that like to be strained
                     by white silence, that of birth.


Dawn paleness, grey-warm torso,
breasts, hardly visible,
tiny waves of ebbing and flowing tide,
allurers of lips,
nourishers, power of a later wakeup.

Caressing water,
interrupting the flow of my life,
then moving to accompany me
up to whatever destiny.

Rusty-red lips, one dark eye and an eyebrow,
pomp and splendour,
worlds each morning procession,
my share of the promise -
our collective hope.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
April 27, 2008

Created by Crazyprofile.com

Autobiographical Photos of Anwar Al-Ghassani From Remote Times

I have started writing the first part of my autobiography (The Iraq Years). These photos are a sample of many photos related to that period:

- The photo where I am standing opposite to a street photographer was made when I was in the second year of the secondary school. The suit I have on was new, but it doesnt look like new because the quality of the photo has deteriorated. I remember that I wanted to be photographed to celebrate the new suit. Place: Kirkuk. Date: 1950.
- The photo of my father (with me, in shorts, to his right and my late brother Farouk to his left) was taken most probably between 1948-1949. Place: unknown, probably Kifri or Kirkuk.
- Myself standing in what seems to be a field. Place: Kirkuk. Date: around 1965.
- Myself standing in one of those cheap popular bars at Al-Bab Ash-Sharqi in Baghdad. Street photographers used to come to those bars asking people if they wanted to have photos. The name of the studio to which the photograper belonged can be seen down to the right. It reads "Studio Opera". It was one of those photo studios in Al-Bab Ash-Sharqi. Date: 1965-1968.

See previous front page of this Website, the one which was pulled down on Monday, February 4, 2008 and replaced by this page.

The Rupture In Iraq

The past is folded, conserved and stored.
It can now be retrieved as images.

The plains have finished expanding;
mountains, gorges, hills, snow and rivers are silent.
The creatures, noctambulists, roving through darkness
to protect their DNA for their successors.
Day and night, this land runs amok against itself.

I love the features of this land,
contours of date palm trees,
fuzzy horizons, and fata morganas.

I am not the savior.
I produce words to connect
the meandering people to the land;
words - food and comfort.

Anwar Al-Ghassani
Jacó, February 25, 2008


Previous Front Pages of this Website
(See how they looked like and what was published in them - click below)

- Front page until Thursday, September 20, 2007
- Front page until Monday, February 4, 2008
- Front page until Wednesday, October 8, 2008

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