Iraqi Poet Kareem Al Iraqi
Iraqi Poet Kareem Al Iraqi. Image Credit: Al Owais Foundation

Abu Dhabi: Renowned Iraqi poet Karim Al Iraqi, also known as Karim Odeh, died in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 68.

A celebrated figure in lyrical folk poetry, Al Iraqi’s demise has left a void in the world of Arabic literature and poetry.

Born in 1955 in Baghdad, Al Iraqi held a diploma in psychology and children’s music from the Teachers Institute in Iraq. Before becoming a household name in poetry, he served as a teacher in Baghdad schools and later as a supervisor for writing school operettas.

Karim’s early tryst with literature began in his primary school years, where he showcased prodigious talent. Over the years, he contributed to numerous Iraqi magazines, such as Al Mutafarj, Al Rasid, and Al Shabab.

Al Iraqi’s literary portfolio spanned across various genres, including folk poetry, songwriting, operettas, plays, and essays. His journey into songwriting commenced in 1974, and since then, he has penned numerous hits, many in collaboration with his longtime friend, the celebrated artist Kazem Al Saher. Their partnership, which began in the army, resulted in over 70 songs.

The poet’s significant breakthrough on an international scale came with Al Saher in Egypt. He then collaborated with several Arab artists such as Diana Haddad, Fadl Shaker, and Asala Nasri.

In the early nineties, Karim relocated from Iraq to Tunisia and later moved across various Arab nations before finally settling in the UAE. Apart from his poetic contributions, he held editorial positions in prominent magazines and was a member of the Association of Authors and World Music Publishers.

One of his notable accolades includes the UNICEF Award for Best Humanitarian Song, which was composed and sung by Kazem Al Saher.

Among his vast body of work are published books, folk tales, poems for children, novels, television programs, plays, albums, and even screenplays. His book “Here is Baghdad” published in Dubai in 2009 stands as a testament to his love for his homeland.