Archive for January, 2009

The Art (and Politics) or Translation

Article by Niloufar Talebi in Tehran Bureau about Iranian literature in English translation.

SF Weekly – Feb 2009

Iran Away‘ – on the Iranian Literary Arts Festival 2009

Introduction to BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World

Excerpt from the Introduction to BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World (North Atlantic Books, Aug 2008), edited and translated by Niloufar Talebi:

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‘In my eighth year as a child growing up in Iran, I spontaneously composed a stanza, a poem, observing the falling of snow, when something took over and I knew it was poetry I was jotting down in a nylon-covered notebook. That notebook remained in the piles of things left behind. This was the country in which I recited over and over again “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep” for our fifth-grade English class. In the fourth grade, the entire class would stand up from our wooden benches and recite an homage poem to mothers. At home, it was Sohrab Sepehri, “Wherever I am, let me be / The sky is mine / … Our work is perhaps / To run after the song of truth/in the distance between the lotus and the century.”

This was also the country in which I had the great fortune, as a teenager, during the four violent years I lived in Iran after the 1979 revolution, to sneak out of bed, way past bedtime, to eavesdrop on a poet in our living room. During these years of unrest, in order to usurp all the power, Ayatollah Khomeini was eradicating all other factions that had played a role in ousting the Shah. The old Iran was combusting into the Islamic Republic of Iran, and all homes were prey to sudden raids by the Islamic police. And though this was a poet so undeniably consequential that despite his outright opposition to Khomeini it would have been impossible to imprison him along with the thousands of other dissidents, we could never be too discreet about his visits to our home.

When he was visiting, it meant we were hosting a “literary salon.” It meant there were simultaneous discussions on art, literature, music, and world affairs. It meant Rachmaninov or Beethoven was blaring while a heated debate was under way in the kitchen, while another group in the living room provided endless commentaries on the nightly televised charades of the Iran-Iraq war, or the staged confessions by soon-to-be-released-or-executed enemy party leaders. Presiding over these salons, cigarette smoke rings dissipating over his full head of white hair, this poet would connect Nima, Lorca, Neruda, Hafez, Akhmatova, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Langston Hughes, Baudelaire, Hedayat, and Farrokhzad, among many others. He handed me many books over that time—carefully chosen, no doubt—each time asserting why this book was perfect for me at that time. In my thirteenth year, I got One Hundred Years of Solitude. Years later when I met him at UCLA where he was giving a lecture, he suggested Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita…’

SF Examiner – Feb 2009

‘Talebi addresses the state of writing in Iran’ – Iranian Literary Arts Festival in the SF Examiner

Interview in Persian with Voice of America

(content coming back soon)

Wikipedia Lists of Iranian Writers

Wikipedia list of Iranian writers throughout the centuries, which leads to other links with additional information.

Below is a partial list of poets featured in BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World:

Perspective Magazine at UC Berkeley

Write up in Perspective Magazine by Roxanne Rashedi  (Fall 2008, pg. 18-19)