|Biographical detail : ||A widely known poet in Arab world
One of Arab world’s most famous poets, al-Malaika was an early exponent of the free verse movement in Arabic. She was one of a small group of Iraqi poets who broke away from classical Arab poetry, with rigid metric and rhyme schemes, and took up modern topic and used lyrical language that spoke with the immediacy of life on the Arab street.
In 1949, al-Malaika published her first volume of free-verse poetry, “Ashes and Shrapnel” and gradually became a celebrated figure, and her poems the subject of academic studies.
Much of al-Malaika work dealt with alienation and the fear of fading into oblivion. Her poem “Lament of a Worthless Woman” (1952) suggests the universal fear of being forgotten after death. Her collections of poetry included Ashiqat Al-Layl, Shadaya Wa Ramad, Qararat Al Mawjah and Shahrul-Ul-Qamar.
She also wrote essays on the constraints imposed on women in Arab society and as an early feminist questioned the patriarchal structure that deprived many women of choices in marriage and career.
In a country in quagmire al-Malaika’s life and work as a poet and a literary critic were poignant reminders of Iraq’s cultural renaissance in mid-20th century. Baghdad then was considered the rendezvous of poets and artistes.
Born in Baghdad to a mother who was also a poet, al-Malaika wrote her poems, in classical Arabic form, when she was 10. She learned English and French. Later in her life she studied at Princeton University and, in 1954, she continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin, earning a master’s degree in comparative literature. She passed away in Cairo.