Saddam Hussein the Poet


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 twice been listed as notable in The Best American Essays and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize by several publications, including Guernica. He was the founding Sunday editor at The Rumpus and is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. He’s been awarded fellowships and residencies by Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, Ragdale, and elsewhere, and he teaches at the UCLA-Extension Writer’s Program and Antioch University, where he received his MFA. More from this author →