His father, Arif Hikmet, is an ethnic Turkmen from Kirkuk, and his mother Sayre is Kurdish. Ahmed Arif studied philosophy at Ankara University. Arif was arrested on political grounds in 1950 and spent time in prison till 1952. Published in various literary journals, his poems were widely read due to their original lyricism and imagery influenced by Anatolian folk cultures. He published only one collection of poetry: Hasretinden Prangalar Eskittim (Fetters Worn Out by Longing/1968) – a volume which has gone through a record number of printings.