Born near Basra, Iraq, Saadi Youssef (1934–2021) was considered one of the most important contemporary poets in the Arab world. Following his experience as a political prisoner in Iraq, he spent most of his life in exile, working as a journalist and activist throughout North Africa and the Middle East. He authored over thirty books of poetry, two novels, and a book of short stories. Youssef lived in London at the time of his death, where he was a leading translator of English literature into Arabic. He translated works by many major writers, including Walt Whitman, Federico García Lorca, C. P. Cavafy, Vasko Popa, and Giuseppe Ungaretti.