In the News

Divine Life Force, Please Meet Truth and Existence

April 1, 2011

New York Times review of Ātash Sorushān (Fire Angels), performed at Carnegie Hall, March 29, 2011.


July 15, 2009

PEN American Center, The New York Review of Books and 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center present


With Shaul Bakhash, Roger Cohen, Haleh Esfandiari, and Karim Sadjadpour

Wednesday, July 15, 200, 7 PM

92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street
Subway: 4/5/6 to 86th Street

TICKETS: $15/$8 for students with ID and PEN members or call 212-868-4444

Blog Talk Radio Review of BELONGING

A new radio show discussing the poetry of Li-Young Lee, Naomi Ayala, and BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World by Niloufar Talebi

Iranian Oral Storytelling

“Memory of a Phoenix Feather: Iranian Storytelling Traditions and Contemporary Theater,” an article by Niloufar Talebi in the July/August 2009 issue of World Literature Today.

Naghali Then and Now

A brief history on the story-telling tradition in Iran and how it has evolved: Naghali, Pardeh-dari, Pardeh-khaani, Ghavali (minstrelsy), Shahnameh-khaani, are Iranian story-telling traditions, practiced usually in the streets and coffee houses, story-teller titles varying according to their style of story-telling and the subject matter of the stories told. Pardeh-dari and Pardeh-khaani are visual forms of story-telling done before a big cloth or canvas (pardeh) hung in a square, or the walls of a tea of coffee house, painted on which are the events of the story being told, which the story-teller would refer to during their recounting.

Coffee house paintings are Iranian-style paintings, in the tradition of miniatures, but with European techniques and material, oil on canvas or cloth, which people in the streets and bazaars started to develop about 80 years ago. This was an attempt to distance art from royal courts and bring it into the hands of the people. Unknown artists who had gained experience in tile paintings, were inspired to create simple images on coffee house walls by the work of story-tellers and Shahnameh-khaans (those reciting the Book of Kings by Ferdowsi, which is in 50,000 couplets, and contains the history and epics of the Persian people from the Creation up to roughly the 7th C. before the Arab/Islamic invasion).

Further readings:

The Islamic Drama: Taziyah – by Jamshid Malikpour; The History of Theater in Iran – by Willem Floor; Coffee House Paintings – Iran Chamber Society

Battle of Karballa Royal Painting
Battle of Karballa Royal Painting

Pardeh of the same royal painting
Pardeh of the same royal painting

Naghali in a Cofee House (Ghahveh Khaaneh)
Naghali in a Cofee House (Ghahveh Khaaneh)

Naghali in a cafe
Naghali in a cafe


Naghali by females in Iran
Naghali by females in Iran

Morshed Torabi demonstrating Shahnameh Naghali
Morshed Torabi demonstrating Shahnameh Naghali

Female Naghal
Female Naghal

Our work is inspired by Iranian story-telling traditions. We perform new and contemporary Iranian poetry as our content, in both the Persian original and English translation. We also use multimedia video projections to create our Pardehs, and bring in other artists such as dancers and musicians on stage. We hope that this theatrical/literary tradition can find a place in American mainstream arts one day. To read about multimedia shows, ICARUS/RISE, and Persian Rite of Spring,  scroll down and visit links about the making of the show, the collaborative artists, and view youtube clips.

Niloufar Talebi reciting new Iranian poetry in Persian and English  translation
Niloufar Talebi reciting new Iranian poetry in Persian and English translation




Radio Interview on Asia Pacific Forum

Tuesday March 24, 2009

Asia Pacific Forum WBAI 99.5 in NYC and live on the web, 8 PM

on the subject of Naghali and Iranian story-telling

Radio Interview on Leonard Lopate

Monday March 23, 2009

Niloufar Talebi appears on the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC 93.9 FM in NYC.

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

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)

Perspective Magazine at UC Berkeley

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

An article in Persian about BELONGING, by Ali Sabati.

BELONGING review by Peter Conners

University of Rochester’s ‘Three Percent’ reviews BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World (North Atlantic Books, Aug 2008)

Interview on ‘Live From Hollywood’

Interview with Suzi Khatami of KIRN670AM’s ‘Live From Hollywood’ on August 27, 2008.

Interview on KKUP 91.5 FM

Interview with J.P. Dancing Bear on Cupertino/Santa Clara’s KKUP poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on August 20, 2008. Audio coming soon.

Interview on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with Shaindel Beers on BlogTalkRadio on August 14, 2008.

Reader reviews

BlogTalkRadio reading of BELONGING

Fast forward (box in the right column) to 32:00 minutes to hear Niloufar Talebi read from BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the world on BlogTalkRadio, hosted by Rafael F.J. Alvarado & Shaindel Beers. (first 32 minutes are William O Daly, Translator of Pablo Neruda’s “Hands Of The Day”)

IPS News Interview

Longing for the past, yet belonging to the present” by Omid Memarian, for Inter Press Service

Also published in the Daily Star

Radio Zamaneh interview (in Persian)

Leva Zand’s interview on BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the world (del-bastangui)

3 Talks on translating Saffari, Karbassi and Naanaam

Poetry.LA posts Niloufar Talebi’s talks on translating Iranian poets Abbas Saffari, Ziba Karbassi and Naanaam, at the Orange County Poetry Festival on May 3, 2008, hosted by Tebot Bach.

On Saffari:

YouTube Preview Image

On Karbassi:

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On Naanaam:

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Creative Press Pack

Creative Press Pack

Anthologies Offer Poetic Diplomacy

A write-up about BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World
in the July/Aug 2008 Poets and Writers Magazine by Travis Nichols

Payvand News

BELONGING on Payvand

Moniru Ravanipur at the Iranian Literary Arts Festival

Interview with Moniru Ravanipur before her controversial talk at the Iranian Literary Arts Festival in November 2007.


ICARUS/RISE on 7 X 7 Magazine’s November Hot List

November 2007:


SF Examiner writes about the Iranian Literary Arts Festival

November 12, 2007 article in the SF Examiner:

KRON 4 Interview–Weekend News

November 12, 2007

Voice of America interview

December 16, 2006

Interview (in Persian) with Voice Of America on December 16th, 2006 with “Roundtable With You”, Meezgerdi Baa Shomaa.

Voice of America
Voice of America

Files are quite large, they will take some time to download.

Multimedia Festival Celebrating Forough Farrokhzad

November 2006

Front page write up in the Press Republican on our November 2006 Multimedia Conference on Modern Iranian Women Poets, celebrating the life and work of legendary Iranian poet, Forough Farrokhzad.

Press Republican Front Page
Press Republican Front Page

Press Republican Page 2
Press Republican Page 2

KRON 4 News

September 17, 2006

The September 24th Benefit Screening is featured on KRON 4 Weekend Update. View 9/17/06 appearance footage below.



September 12, 2006

Interview with Omid Memarian on BBC Persian.

Interview with Bruce Bahmani

September 9, 2006

In-depth interview about The Translation Project called,
“New Life, Through Translation”

Rozaneh Magazine

SF’s 7X7 Magazine

September 2006

7X7_logo.gifThe September issue of 7 X 7 Magazine calls our project as “Most Likely to Make You Want to Learn Farsi”, pg. 217

Radio Interview with Mehrdad Haghighi

September 2, 2006

A 1-hour interview with 670 am KIRN about The Translation Project and our events at the OC Mehregan. Audio download of the interview coming soon.

Washington Prism

Article about the project (in Persian)

Interview with Iranican Live

July 15, 2006

View highlights from the bilingual interview with Iranican live on the Persian News Network.

دوستان عزیز دوزبانه–انگلیسی-فارسی–میتوانند قسمتی از گفتگو را اینجا ببینند


Interview with Iranican Live (Jul. 15, 2006)

Persian Mirror Interview

An interview with Persian Mirror

Spring 2006-Agni Online publisher Afrasiabi

Translations of two poems by Amir-Hossein Afrasiabi in this issue of Agni online.

Spring 2006-Special Section in Rattapallax arrives!

Niloufar Talebi guest-edits the Spring 2006 issue of Rattapallax and features 13 Iranian poets in the "Outside Poetry Since the Iranian Revolution" section. This issue comes with a CD which includes two audio tracks from her films based on the peotry of Ziba Karbassi and Majid Naficy.

Sanctions Eased: Cuba, Iran, Syria

A new rule is issued by OFAC.
Pen American Center’s updated website.
You can also view the original September 2003 OFAC ruling text by scrolling down to RELEVANT OFAC RULING and clicking on appropriate dates.

On-going Saga…

Scott Martelle, staff writer of the LA times and AP journalist, wrote U.S. Government Moves to Muzzle Dissident Voices on 12/07/04.

Nobel Laureat Joins the Suit

Denied the right to publish in the US, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi, joins Pen American Center and others in the battle against OFAC.

“Poetry Far From Home”

October 12, 2004

is the title of the article posted on about TTP.

Taking Legal Action

American publishers take legal action against the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department’s legal ruling of September 2003 concerning editing, translating and publishing manuscripts from disfavored countries.

Association of American University Presses

New York Times

Freedom Reinstated?

The Treasury Dept.’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reconsiders its earlier declaration to control the editing, translation and publishing of written work from countries under U.S. economic sanctions. New York Press reports.

Will We Restore our Freedom in the Exchange of Ideas?

New York Times Op/Ed.

Editing, Altering or Enhancing Writing from Iran?

Read about recent rules and regulations on treating writing submitted to US publishers from countries under a trade embargo.

Democracy Now!

The New YorK Times abstract. Below is the entire article:

Treasury Department Is Warning Publishers of the Perils of Criminal Editing of the Enemy

February 28, 2004

Writers often grumble about the criminal things editors do to their prose. The federal government has recently weighed in on the same issue – literally.

It has warned publishers they may face grave legal consequences for editing manuscripts from Iran and other disfavored nations, on the ground that such tinkering amounts to trading with the enemy.

Anyone who publishes material from a country under a trade embargo is forbidden to reorder paragraphs or sentences, correct syntax or grammar, or replace “inappropriate words,” according to several advisory letters from the
Treasury Department in recent months.

Adding illustrations is prohibited, too. To the baffled dismay of publishers, editors and translators who have been briefed about the policy, only publication of “camera-ready copies of manuscripts” is allowed.

The Treasury letters concerned Iran. But the logic, experts said, would seem to extend to Cuba, Libya, North Korea and other nations with which most trade is banned without a government license.

Laws and regulations prohibiting trade with various nations have been enforced for decades, generally applied to items like oil, wheat, nuclear reactors and, sometimes, tourism. Applying them to grammar, spelling and punctuation is an
infuriating interpretation, several people in the publishing industry said.

“It is against the principles of scholarship and freedom of expression, as well as the interests of science, to require publishers to get U.S. government permission to publish the works of scholars and researchers who happen to live in
countries with oppressive regimes,” said Eric A. Swanson, a senior vice president at John Wiley & Sons, which publishes scientific, technical and medical books and journals.

Nahid Mozaffari, a scholar and editor specializing in literature from Iran, called the implications staggering. “A story, a poem, an article on history, archaeology,
linguistics, engineering, physics, mathematics, or any other area of knowledge cannot be translated, and even if submitted in English, cannot be edited in the U.S.,” she said.

“This means that the publication of the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Persian Literature that I have been editing for the last three years,” she said, “would constitute aiding and abetting the enemy.”

Allan Adler, a lawyer with the Association of American Publishers, said the trade group was unaware of any prosecutions for criminal editing. But he said the mere
fact of the rules had scared some publishers into rejecting works from Iran.

Lee Tien, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, questioned the logic of making editors a target of broad regulations that require a government license.

“There is no obvious reason why a license is required to edit where no license is required to publish,” he said. “They can print anything as is. But they can’t correct typos?”

In theory – almost certainly only in theory – correcting typographical errors and performing other routine editing could subject publishers to fines of $500,000 and 10 years in jail.

“Such activity,” according to a September letter from the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, “would constitute the provision of prohibited services to Iran.”

Tara Bradshaw, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, confirmed the restrictions on manuscripts from Iran in a statement. Banned activities include, she wrote, “collaboration on and editing of the manuscripts, the selection of reviewers, and
facilitation of a review resulting in substantive enhancements or alterations to the manuscripts.”

She did not respond to a request seeking an explanation of the department’s reasoning.

Congress has tried to exempt “information or informational materials” from the nation’s trade embargoes. Since 1988, it has prohibited the executive branch from interfering “directly or indirectly” with such trade. That exception is
known as the Berman Amendment, after its sponsor, Representative Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat.

Critics said the Treasury Department had long interpreted the amendment narrowly and grudgingly. Even so, Mr. Berman said, the recent letters were “a very bizarre interpretation.”

“It is directly contrary to the amendment and to the intent of the amendment,” he said. “I also don’t understand why it’s not in our interest to get information into Iran.”

Kenneth R. Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, said the government had grown insistent on the editing ban. “Since 9/11 and since the Bush administration took office,” he said, “the Treasury Department has been ramping up enforcement.”

Publishers may still seek licenses from the government that would allow editing, but many First Amendment specialists said that was an unacceptable alternative.

“That’s censorship,” said Leon Friedman, a Hofstra law professor who sometimes represents PEN. “That’s a prior restraint.”

Esther Allen, chairwoman of the PEN American Center’s translation committee, said the rules would also appear to ban translations. “During the cold war, the idea was to let voices from behind the Iron Curtain be heard,” she said. “Now that’s called trading with the enemy?”

In an internal legal analysis last month, the publishers’ association found that the regulations “constitute a serious threat to the U.S. publishing community in general and to scholarly and scientific publishers in particular.” Mr. Adler, the association’s lawyer, said it was trying to persuade officials to alter the regulations and might file a legal challenge.

These days, journals published by the engineering institute reject manuscripts from Iran that need extensive editing and run a disclaimer with those they accept, said Michael R. Lightner, the institute vice president responsible for
publications. “It tells readers,” he said, “that the article did not get the final polish we would like.”