al-Sayyāb, Badr Shākir (1926–1964) By Tramontini, Leslie
Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb is the unrivalled champion of the Arab Free Verse movement. One of the most well-known poets of the twentieth century, he revolutionized modern Arab poetry with his experiments in form, language, and content. Sayyāb introduced political commitment (iltizām) as concept into his poetry, interweaving it with myths of martyrdom and self-sacrifice in search for a better society. Coupling political commitment with a new form, radically breaking with the traditional classical forms and tropes, Sayyāb succeeded in liberating Arab poetry from the restraints and restrictions of its literary conventions. Even though later on it turned out that Sayyāb’s Weltanschauung had been too naïve, he is the undisputed master of a new lyrical diction and sensitivity that paved the way for the following generations.