Nazik Al-Mala’ika (نازك الملائكة) is a famous female writer, poet and critic from Iraq. Nazik was born in Baghdad in 1922 to a literary family. Both her parents wrote poetry. Her father (صادق الملائكة) was a famous Iraqi poet and writer who edited a 20 volume encyclopedia. Her mother (سلمى عبد الرزاق) wrote poetry under the pseudonym. Nazik’s upbringing in a literary household encouraged her to start writing poetry at a very early age. She wrote her first poem at the age of 10.
Nazik was trained as a teacher of Arabic and graduated in 1944 in Baghdad. After that, she obtained a degree in music in 1949, and an MA in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin in the USA in 1959. Later, she worked as a lecturer at the University of Baghdad and the University of Basra where she met her husband. Nazik knew Arabic, English, French German and Latin.
Nazik published some poems in newspapers and magazines during her university study, and she published her first poetry book in 1947 under the title (عاشقة الليل) “she who loves the night”. Nazik’s poetry is very sad, and deals with topics like death, disillusion, illness, etc. One of her best-known poems is (الكوليرا) ‘Cholera’, which is written in free verse. She liked to write religious and moralistic poetry. In addition, she translated poems by Byron, Thomas Gray and others.
Nazik is considered one of the most influential literary writers in the Arab world, and she is said to be among the first Arab poets to use free verse (الشعر الحر). She is also a very respectable critic (ناقدة) who contributed very important literary criticisms, e.g. “Issues of Contemporary Poetry” (قضايا الشعر المعاصر) and “Psychology of Poetry” (سايكولوجية الشعر). Nazik is also an advocate of women’s rights