Shahadat spring

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Shahadat Spring

Text of Shahadat spring

  • Spring 2013


  • Table of content

    Introduction by guest editor Roger Sedarat 4Mohsen EmadiFrom Amsterdam to Tehran 7

    Simin Behbahani I am with you 13

    Roya ZarrinSound of the Human Child 15 In the Ghost Train 17Dont Close the Window 19 Goodbye Mr. Orwell 21The Earth was Vast 23Gone to the Pastore Drugstore 25Send My Picture to the Journal 29

    Alimorad FadaieniaExcerpt from "Tales of the Nameless" 31

    Bijan Jalali Untitled 35

    Said SoltanpurWinter Squall 37In Pahlavi Prison 39Communist Victor 45

    Gholam-Hossein Saadi The Invitation 55

    About the ContributorsTranslators 120Writers 122

    Guest Editor Roger Sedarat



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    Contemporary Literature In Translation Series

    Managing Editor: Barrak Alzaid

    Guest Editor Roger Sedarat

    Contemporary IranianLiterature

  • The obvious convention for a guest edited introduction of work in translation calls for briefly foregrounding what readers should know about the authors and their publications coming into English from another tradition. Though I will of course briefly touch upon this diversely exceptional body of work that loosely coheres around the category of contemporary Persian literature, I attempt to do so by inverting the norm: introducing instead the translators featured in this issue of Shahadat to illuminate the importance of what they have chosen to submit. Insofar as a western audience depends upon their talented renderings of Persian drama, poetry, and prose into English, comment upon who has made these texts possible seems warranted, as it has much to teach about the featured texts. The emerging talent of young scholars and translators like Kaveh Bassirihimself a rather accomplished poet and scholar teaching Persian literature while pursing a doctorate at the University of Arkansasbrings us the verse of Roya Zarrin, a quite established poet that remains relatively unrecognized outside of Iran. Like Kaveh, Samad Alavi and Aria Fani are currently enrolled in graduate study. To cite their academic pursuits is to say something substantial about future discoveries and greater understandings of various Persian writers. Aria, in collaboration with

    Adeeba Talukder (who also translates Pakistani and Afghani poets), brings us verse by the remarkable Simin Behbahani as well as the lesser known (to the west) Bijan Jalali. Samad Alavi, who also teaches Persian at San Francisco State University, offers verse by the poet and playwright Said Soltanpur, allowing the reader to consider the writer beyond, or perhaps in connection with, the tragic story of his political struggle (more of which can be understood in the author biographies). In addition to publication by emerging scholars, this issue features work by such established and award winning translators as Sholeh Wolp. Here too the translators biography can provide an introduction of her chosen poet, Mohsen Emadi. Like the first poem in this issue, From Amsterdam to Tehran, Sholeh crosses regions and traditions to great effect in her own work, translating from Persian into English and vice versa. Among her many projects, she currently has co-translated, with the poet she brings us here, Walt Whitmans Song of Myself as part of the University of Iowas International Writing Program.Like Sholeh, Salar Abdoh is himself a very accomplished creative writer who both bridges and complicates traditions with a deep understanding of contemporary Iranian culture. His instincts for translation in part must surely emerge from his own postmodern sensibilities. Like Salars fiction, Alimorad Fadaienias short story here remains charged with both lyric power and political intrigue.

    Introduction: Contemporary Iranian Literature


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    Finally Maryam Habibian, with a background in performance, offers along with co-translator Lois Becker a short dramatic work by Iranian playwright and prose writer Gholam-Hossein Saadi, my personal favorite Iranian writer of the 20th century. Here again the reader encounters excellent collaborative translation work, which proves quite fitting with a piece written for performance. It remains somewhat clich to observe that even one translator going at it alone collaboratesinsofar as he or she works with the author of the source text regardless of living or dead. This final one act play, the longest selection in the issue, speaks in part for an ongoing dialogue among those engaging the Persian tradition in various genres and from different perspectives. Maryam summarizes the dramatic piece as follows:The one act play The Invitation, from the collection of five one act plays The Light, shows the struggle of individuals against their chaotic world. In The Invitation, a young society woman and her maid spend a frantic afternoon preparing for a party, only to discover in the end that the young woman doesnt remember where its to be or if there really is a party at all. It presents a dark, funny, and fascinating portrait gallery of pre-Revolutionary Iran. And yet, like the works of Chekhov or Brecht or Ionesco (all of whose influence can be felt in the collection), Saadis themes and characters and situations are universally

    recognizable. So too do the translators and their translations here touch upon different influences, producing themes and voices among speakers as well as characters who, although of course from a country that continues to remain somewhat foreign to western sensibilities, nevertheless emerge as universally recognizable, albeit in their own distinct ways. R.S.


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  • 7Day will soon break on your ashes,break on this round plaza wheredoves are circling in fear.

    The plaza now becomes a deep well inside your laments from which the doves break away.

    The well is your mouthjoined to a feverish bodythat spirals to the center of the earth into the molten mass of nameless wounds.

    The doves flee far,and inside the winds quiet wail, your ashes slap the faces of passersby who quiver with pleasure watching the fireworks.

    The word is ash.We sing and spread iton wounds to stop the bloods flow.

    Cold wind blows on my wound,on this garment still aching from its last intimate embrace,and ravages all garmentsof the world inflictedwith a contagious absence.

    Poem by: Mohsen Emadi Translated by: Sholeh Wolpe

    From Amsterdam to Tehran

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  • 9Women sit by a river,their tubs filled with ash.They sing and they wash dishes.Absence is a small melody.It is a fist-full of ashsprinkled on greasy spoons,forks, and plates,on cups and saucers.The women sing and splashand the small melodywashes clean the memories,molds with it a bodyon which no strangers hands have dripped wetness.

    Ash remembers the first shape of everything except itself.

    The women sing and the moon shimmers inside their melody.The naked spears of grass,of snow, tremble in the recesses of teenage girls laugher.The pubescent boys breaking voices run on the surface of the songs.

    Little bells that hang on the necks of playful lambs.Little bells that hang on the necks of all objectsto not lose their way home.Little bells in the thick of fog tolling: I am here,here where all women return home with tubs empty of ash.

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    We will find each other with these tiny bells,with the small melodies of absencewhen we light up a cigarette in the whirling fogand a spirit from inside the fogs heart approaches, a can of oil in hand,and asks for a light.

    The steam from breaths are frozen,and the fog has clogged throats passageways.

    Tonight, all church bells toll. Tonight, the sheep wander along the edges of clarity and fog.Tonight, songs become ash in the throats well, shadows become ashin the mirror.

    Free of reflections, of shadows,I overdose on a blazing garment in the airport.I overdose on the floating islands in the execution circles.I overdose on the earth itselfthat turns and twirlsat the very moment the plane takes offand the stool beneath the feetof a condemned is kicked,or a garment is set ablazeon the body of a nameless manwho opens his own veins on the linesof this paper.

    I overdose on youfrom Amsterdam to Tehran.

    I overdose on the earth itself

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    I am with you, my friend! With you.It is with you that I tread forth.

    Your joy is my own elation;I raise my wine-cup to your glass.

    I am with you, my friend! With youour oath has bound us for eternities.

    My steps are your stepstake me by the hand.My feet are your feetlead me to the path.

    a history of suffering has pulledme closer to you

    Poem by: Simin Behdahani Translated by: Aria Fani and Adeeba Talukder

    I am with you

    I once shared with you a prison cella single cage, black and dark.

    the anguish youve borne at the hands of the vilehas left its traces on my own fac