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Legacy of Forugh Farrokhzad: with Sholeh Wolpé, Jasmin Darznik, and Shabnam Piryael

December 3, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm PST

Forugh Farrokhzad

Legacy of Forugh Farrokhzad: with Sholeh Wolpé, Jasmin Darznik, and Shabnam Piryaei—poetry, fiction, film, and conversation

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A late afternoon gathering of poetry, fiction, film, and conversation, inspired and emboldened by the work and legacy of one of Iran’s outstanding cultural figures of the 20th century, poet, filmmaker, and feminist iconoclast Forugh Farrokhzad (December 29, 1934–February 13, 1967). Featuring Sholeh Wolpé, Jasmin Darznik and Shabnam Piryaei. With emcee Persis Karim, Neda Nobari Distinguished Chair and director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies.

This remote access event will begin promptly at 4:00 pm Pacific Time, and is free and open to the public. Real-Time Captioning provided on request (Media Captioning provided after the event); for reasonable accommodations please contact poetry@sfsu.edu.

Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Co-presented by The Poetry Center and the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies.

…With an alien voice, utterly false,
one can cry out: I love!
In the oppressive arms of a man
one can be a robust, beautiful female–
skin like leather tablecloth,
breasts large and hard.
One can stain the sinlessness of love
in the bed of a drunk, a madman, a tramp.

One can cunningly belittle
every perplexing puzzle.
Alone, occupy oneself with crosswords,
content with unimportant words,
yes, unimportant letters, no more than five or six.

One can spend a lifetime kneeling,
head bowed,
before the cold altar of the Imams,
find God inside an anonymous grave,
faith in a few paltry coins.
One can rot inside a mosque’s chamber,
an old woman, prayers dripping from lips.

Whatever the equation, one can always be a zero,
yielding nothing, whether added, subtracted, or multiplied….

—Forugh Farrokhzad, from “Wind-up Doll,” tr. Sholeh Wolpé

  • “Poetic modernism came to Iran as late as the 1960s, when Farrokhzad streaked across the literary horizon…. Of course, she became a scandal, one that endures to this day…. [T]he poems’ long lines and musical repetitions sweep the reader away as effectively as any American projective verse.” —Booklist, on Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad, translated by Sholeh Wolpé

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer and playwright. UCLA’s inaugural Writer-in-Residence in 2018, Wolpé is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize as well as artist fellowships and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia and Switzerland. Her literary work includes five collections of poetry, several plays, four books of translations, and three anthologies. She travels internationally as a performing poet, writer and public speaker and has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians nationally and internationally. Translator of Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (University of Arkansas Press, 2010), Wolpé is the Writer-in-Residence at UC Irvine and lives in Los Angeles.

  • “These are times for stories that bring one culture nearer to another, and that is exactly what Jasmin Darznik has done, pulling close the hearts of girls and women and poets to tell Forugh Farrokhzad’s remarkable story.”
    —Laleh Khadivi, on Jasmin Darznik’s novel Song of a Captive Bird 

Jasmin Darznik’s debut novel Song of a Captive Bird was a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” book and a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Jasmin is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her books have been published in seventeen countries and her essays have appeared in the New York TimesWashington Postand Los Angeles Times, among others. Her next book, a historical novel set in 1920s San Francisco, is forthcoming in 2021. She is a professor of English and creative writing at California College of the Arts, in San Francisco.

  • “Shabnam Piryaei’s work rings smart, ‘Every inheritance is a compass.’; surreal, ‘a benevolent crow / pecked daylight’s bullet / into the room’ …; and at the same time, pinned fast with moments that are utterly tactile, ‘somehow unbroken / in your sleeping hand, a speckled egg’. A charming voice where NOTHING IS WASTED.” —Kimiko Hahn

Described by the San Francisco Book Review as “a force to be reckoned with in literary circles,” Shabnam Piryaei is an award-winning poet, playwright, media artist, and filmmaker. In addition to authoring the books Nothing is Wasted (The Operating System, 2017), FORWARD (Museum Books, 2014) and ode to fragile (Plain View Press, 2010), she has written and directed three poetry films that have screened at film festivals and art galleries around the world. She has been awarded first place in the Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Award, Poets & Writers Amy Award, the Transport of the Aim Poetry Prize, the Brain Mill Press Editors’ Choice, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Grant, a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is currently directing a documentary film entitled there is no separate survival, about asylum seekers across the U.S.-Mexico border. To learn more about her work, visit shabnampiryaei.com.


December 3, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm PST
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