Friday, 23 May 2008

Seven Valleys of Love, new Iranian poetry anthology

seven_valleys_of_loves.jpgA new book of poetry called Seven Valleys of Love by Sheema Kalbasi looking at the works of Iranian female poets from Middle Ages Persia to contemporary Iran. (Hat tip to Kamangir)

Those Days

Those days


Was my room

And wherever I felt unsafe

I gravitated into its eternal sanctuary.

These days

There aren’t any rooms

That can harbor me against the crowd

and behind every window

inside and outside every room

a two-faced clown sneers.

Fereshteh Sari (more samples from the book )

The book can be purchased online on Amazon. Some donations will proceed to a breast cancer research center in Connecticut.

It may not seem as though there have been many Iranian female poets or writers published, but there are certainly more than any other country (bar Israel) in the Middle East. There are several good anthologies of Iranian womens' fiction out there too. I think Palestine, Iran and maybe Lebanon stand out as being the countries in the region with the most thriving literary cultures.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Bathing by Forough Farrokhzad (فروغ فرخزاد) / Persian poetry

I shed my clothes in the lush air
to bathe naked in the spring water,
but the quiet night seduced me
into telling it my gloomy story.

The water's cool shimmering waves
moaned and lustily surrounded me,
urged with soft crystal hands
my body and spirit into themselves.

A far breeze hurried in,
poured a lapful of flowers in my hair,
breathed into my mouth Eurasian mint's
pungent, heart-clinging scent.

Silent and soaring, I closed my eyes,
pressed my body against the soft young rushes,
and like a woman folded into her lover's arms
gave myself to the flowing waters.

Aroused, parched, and fevered, the water's lips
rippled trembling kisses on my thighs,
and we suddenly collapsed, intoxicated, gratified,
both sinners, my body and the spring's soul.

Original published in Deevar (The Wall). This translation comes from Sholeh Wolpé's Sin. Amazon has a whole bunch of Forough Farrokhzad poetry collections in translation.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Sin by Forough Farrokhzad (فروغ فرخزاد) / Persian poetry

I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace,
sinned in a pair of vindictive arms,
arms violent and ablaze.

In that quiet vacant dark
I looked into his mystic eyes,
found such longing that my heart
fluttered impatient in my breast.

In that quiet vacant dark
I sat beside him punch-drunk,
his lips released desire on mine,
grief unclenched my crazy heart.

I poured in his ears lyrics of love:
O my life, my love it's you I want.
Life-giving arms, it's you I crave.
Crazed lover, for you I thirst.

Lust enflamed his eyes,
red wine trembled in the cup,
my body, naked and drunk,
quivered softly on his breast.

I have sinned a rapturous sin
beside a body quivering and spent,
I do not know what I did O God,
in that quiet vacant dark.

Original published in Deevar (The Wall). This translation comes from Sholeh Wolpé's Sin. Amazon has a whole bunch of Forough Farrokhzad poetry collections in translation.

Persian poetry in English / Forough Farrokhzad

"Why are you wasting your time on that whore?" is the question poet and translator Sholeh Wolpé kept being asked when talking about her book of Forough Farrokhzad poems. And it's 40 years since Forough died, so that's a powerful legacy.

Forough Farrokhzad (Persian: فروغ فرخزاد) wrote provocative poetry, full of challenge, defiance, taboo-breaking and lived her life in the same way. Her short life was a whirlwind of scandal (sometimes self-created, sometimes not), rejection by the male-dominated publishing and poetry/arts establishment, but also devotion from Iranians. Always an outsider and, given Iran's reactionary turn since the ousting of the Shah, guaranteed to stay that way. But that doesn't mean that Iranian's don't read her poetry or take it into their hearts.

A selected works in English and in Persian is available online. I'm going to post up several of her poems. YouTube has some videos about her and of people reading her poems (and more and more).

Friday, 9 May 2008

No talent not wanted in Bahrain

Islamists in Bahrain aren't happy that Haifa Wehbe has a concert there. But not because she's got no real talent and her songs are rubbish.