Forever Under Construction

Shab-e She’r

Posted in Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on December 12, 2007


Persian Art Festival

Thanks Richard for informing us about the “Shab-e She’r”, a night of Persian poetry in NY. Read more

Poet and essayist Richard Jeffrey Newman has translated a selection of Saadi‘s Bustan and Golestan, see previous post: It is all connected

It Is All Connected …

Posted in Books, Iran, Literature, Middle East, Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on July 25, 2007

Selections from Saadi‘s Bustan
Introduction and sample poems

Translated by poet and essayist Richard Jeffrey Newman


Selections from Saadi‘s Gulistan
Introduction and sample poems

Whether you call the literature Iranian or Persian, it deserves and should command your attention, not only because the current political situation between the US and its allies and Iran makes it imperative that people throughout the world (though perhaps especially in the US) understand Iran and Iranians as much as possible, but because it is a worthy literature in its own right, confronting in important and complex ways, from at least the 10th century onward, the questions of identity and meaning that we all wrestle with, no matter what language we speak, where we live now or where we were born.” It Is All Connected



“Gathered together under the title “The Revolution Is What Made This Issue Possible”, the poems, stories and essays in this issue include works written – from outside Iran, inside Iran and the Academy – from the 10th through the 21st centuries …” more

Relevant links:
Richard Jeffrey Newman website and blog
ArteEast: Works of artists from the Middle East and its diaspora
The Translation Project: contemporary Persian literature
Persian Arts Festival, New York City

Windows …

Posted in Iran, Literature, News, Persian literature by homeyra on June 20, 2007

Fatemeh Keshavarz publishes regularly a series of articles: Windows on Iran. Highly recommended.

The last issue includes her thoughts about the the recent arrests, the one-sidedness of the media on Iran/Islam related issues, the covert black operations – reportedly including a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation if Iran’s currency and Mr. Baghi’s letter regarding these current issues, etc.

She also presents the following links:

What is it that you fear, Mr. Bush? by Judith Ernst: As I fly out of Iran after a visit to the garden city of Shiraz, I am puzzled by your belligerence [] Mr. Bush, who is it that you fear? read more

Cheney’s Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed, by Gareth Porter


Slide show of the performance, with excerpts and an interview with Gord-Afarid, Fatemeh Habibizad, the first Iranian woman Naqqal – a performer reading and enacting stories of the celebrated Persian epic The Book of Kings: the revival of the traditional storytelling. Update: With English subtitles

Colors of Iran: Iran’s first International Children’s Book Festival, Kerman, 2005

A three-minute documentary by the renowned director Abbas Kiarostami, made on the occasion of Cannes Film festival’s 60th year, including 24 Iranian actresses whom he has worked with over the years.

Previous post: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran


Posted in Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on April 18, 2007

Thanks Loopy for the following link:

Can Rumi save us now?

Life and words of the popular 13th-century Persian poet have special meaning for a 21st-century world torn by war, genocide and hatred. Jonathan Curiel, SFGate:

rumi.jpg“During the last decades of his life, the Persian poet Rumi was surrounded by news of terrorism, just as we are eight centuries later. Those were the days of Mongol invasions that swept past the steppes of Asia into Anatolia, the Near East and other areas of geographical importance. Mass murders from war — what today would be called genocide and ethnic cleansing — were a routine part of Rumi’s 13th-century world.

So, where’s the bloodshed in Rumi’s writing? Where are all the parables about gore and conflict and Mongol atrocities?
Nowhere, really, say Rumi scholars … ‘Every enemy is your medicine … your beneficial alchemy and heart healing‘ Rumi says … read the article

Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, idolater, worshiper of fire,
Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times,
Come, and come yet again … Ours is not a caravan of despair

Rumi, wikipedia
Books on Rumi
The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi
Persian Poetry Circle of North America

Persian Literature & The West, Part VI

Posted in Germany, Iran, Literature, Persian, Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on December 4, 2006

Where Nietzsche speaks about the Persian notion of history and cyclical Eternal Time, he writes: “I must pay tribute to Zarathustra, a Persian, for Persians were the first who thought of history in its full entirety.”…”It was much more fortunate if Persians became masters (Herr) of the Greeks, than the very Romans.”

Goethe‘s admiration for Hafez and his “Oriental” wisdom has been the main source of attracting Nietzsche’s interest in this Persian poet.

The first western country who began to study the Iranian literature and appreciate it was Germany. The German scholars were in touch with Persian literature and poetry through the translation of Sa’adi’s Gulistan and Bustan in 17th century.
Germany acquired a far better appreciation and understanding of the East than France and England. The scholars and poets of Germany were looking for inspiration from other sources than those offerd by Greek classics and mythology. They studied with zeal the literature of the East.

See Part V, sources in Part I

Persian Literature & The West – Part V

Posted in Iran, Persian, Persian literature by homeyra on November 28, 2006

Nietzsche‘s Zarathustra, like the original Zarathustra …goes to the mountain for meditation when he is thirty years old and, like him, descends ten years later to convey his message for humanity. By choosing the name of ‘Zarathustra’ as prophet of his philosophy…he followed the paradoxical aim of paying homage to the original Aryan prophet and reversing his teachings at the same time.


The original Zoroastrian world view interprets being essentially on a moralistic basis and depicts the world as an arena for the struggle of the two fundamentals of being, Good and Evil, represented in two antagonistic divine figures. In contrast, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra puts forward his ontological immoralism against this view, and tries to reestablish the primordial innocence of ‘being’ by destructing philosophically all moralistic interpretations. In this way, the ontological immoralism of the Nietzsche’s Zarathustra stands, philosophically and historically, antipodal to the moralism of the archaic prophet and thinker.

“What the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist: for what constitutes the tremendous historical uniqueness of that Persian is just the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to consider the fight of good and evil the very wheel in the machinery of things: the transposition of morality into the metaphysical realms as a force, cause, and end in itself… Zarathustra created this most calamitous error, morality, consequently, he must also be the first to recognize it…. To speak the truth and to shoot well with arrows, that is Persian virtue.—-Am I understood?—The self-overcoming of morality, out of truthfulness; the self-overcoming of the moralist, into his opposite—into me—that is what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth.”

Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the “Übermensch” (either the “overman” or “superman”; or, superhuman or overhuman) which alludes to Nietzsche’s notions of “self-mastery”, “self-cultivation”, “self-direction”, and “self-overcoming”.

See Part IV, Sources in Part I

Persian Literature & The West – IV

Posted in Iran, Literature, Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on November 26, 2006

For Nietzsche Hafez represents a prime example of ‘Dionysian’ ecstatic wisdom which he extols so extensively in his philosophy. The number of references to Hafez in his writings are considerable. The name of Hafez, usually in the company of Goethe, appears about ten times in his writings. He admires both as summits of human wisdom. For him Hafez exemplifies the Oriental free-spirit man celebrating joys of life as well as its sufferings. Nietzsche commends such an attitude as sign of a positive and courageous valuation of life. There is even a short poem in Nietzsche’s Collected Works, entitled An Hafis. Frage eines Wassertrinkers -To Hafez: Questions of a Water Drinker. The poem glorifies the insightfulness of Hafez and his poetical achievements. At the end, he asks Hafez, as a ‘water drinker’, why he demands wine while having the power of making intoxicated everybody.

Hafez and Mowlavi (Rumi) both have verses concerning the need to create a “Real Man”:

A real Man cannot be found in our earthly world,
We should make a new world and a new
Man. Hafez

Yester night a Sheikh was seeking with a lamp all over the town,
Stating that he was tired of devils and wild beasts and was looking for a Man.
I told him that we have already searched everywhere for him, he could not be found
He said I am looking for that who could not be found
. Mowlavi

Sources in Part I – Part II, III

Persian Literature & The West – II

Posted in Iran, Literature, Persian literature, Poetry by homeyra on November 12, 2006

Persian Studies professor Dick Davis of the Ohio State University states that relative to its scope, more of Persian literature has passed into the common stock of English proverbial expression and cliché than is true of literary works of any other language. As a demonstrative metric, the 1953 edition of The Oxford Book of Quotations, contains no less than 188 excerpts from the Rubaiyat alone, of which 59 are complete quatrains, virtually two thirds of the total work of Omar Khayam. Not even Shakespeare or the Authorized Version of the Bible are represented by such massive percentages.”

Sources : see part I to be continued

Persian Literature & The West – I

Posted in Iran, Literature, Persian, Persian literature by homeyra on November 11, 2006

I was surprised to find an entry on Persian poetry in reclaiming space. I though it might be interesting to make a few posts on the subject. Persian literature has had influences on many writers and cultures outside of its boundaries.

When Goethe became acquainted with Hafez’s Diwan he wrote “Suddenly I came face to face with the celestial perfume of the East and invigorating breeze of Eternity that was being blown from the plains and the wastelands of Persia, and I came to know an extraordinary man whose personality completely fascinated me”.

Fredric Nietzsche says: 0 Hafez thou hast built a tavern of philosophy which is mightier than any other palace in the world, and in it, thou hast prepared a wine full of sweet words that surpasses the power of a world to drink. Who can be the guest in thy tavern but the mythological Simurgh?”

The late Professor Edward G. Browne believes that “the epic, lyric, didactic, mystic, satiric, or pessimist poets of Iran such as Firdowsi, Hafez, Sa’adi, Nasir-Khusrow, Attar, Jallal ad-Din Balkhi (Rumi); Ubayd-i-Zakani, and Omar Khayyam, each in his own different way appeals to some ground common to all mankind“. And these are the ones that are known best, outside Iran. He calls Iranians “the most ancient, gifted and original peoples of the world“… he write elsewhere about “an altogether inadequate judgment of the intellectual activity of that ingenius and talented people.

I am only quoting! 🙂

Sources: Wikipedia, Iranica, Mihan Foundation to be continued