Saddam Hussein the Poet

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On Thursday, the National Security Archives obtained and released 20 FBI “interviews” with Saddam Hussein. One of the things Hussein did, apparently, was read his interviewer some of his poetry. Unfortunately, these accounts don’t actually include transcripts of any of his poems, but according to a 2007 article on Spiegel Online, his poetry “was often obscure, highly alliterative and difficult, even for Arabic speakers, to comprehend fully.”

Spiegel did publish a translation of the last poem he wrote before he died, which starts, “Unbind your soul. It is my soul mate and you are my soul’s beloved.” I will spare you the rest. 

And now, as if that single line of Hussein’s poetry isn’t enough to convince the world that politicians and poetry don’t mix, it turns out that coalition forces are about to start using poetry as a propaganda tool in Afghanistan.


Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at www.seth-fischer.com, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →