Five Prominent Figures of Modern Iranian Poetry
In this short course, we will look at remarkable lives and powerful poetry of five prominent poets of modern Iran. They are: Nima Yooshij (1897-1960) Forough Farrokhzad (1934-1968), Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), Ahmad Shamlou (1925-2000), and Simin Behbehani (1927 – 2014). These poets represent different poetic styles, voices, and moral stance towards society, yet their life styles, art, and activism together capture a wide range of Iranian subjectivities during the modern age and beyond that until today. Each week we discuss one of these poets and their significance in shaping Iran’s poetry during the 20th century. Each class consists of a forty-five-minute lecture by the instructor, followed by the group discussions of each poet’s sample poetry. The last class is dedicated to participants’ readings and responses to these five authors’ poetry.
Week 1: Nima Yooshij is called the founder of the Iran’s modern poetry, because he reformed both the content and form of classic Persian poetry. His work influenced the next two generations of poets, who themselves became prominent figures and influenced contemporary generations of Iranian poets until today.
Week 2: Forough Farrokhzad is celebrated not only for her poetry but also for her remarkable and daring short life. Farrokhzad who died before the 1979 Revolution in a car accident, is an iconoclast for female sensitivity and agency. Her revealing poetry displays the inner experience of Iranian women and gives voice to their unspoken desires, motivations, and aspirations. She is also renowned for her 1962 film The House is Black.
Week 3: Ahmad Shamlou is one of the most influential poets of modern Iran. Even though he first wrote in the same style as his predecessor Nima Yooshij, he later started writing blank verse and produced some of the best Iran’s poetry in this style. Shamlou was both influenced by the Persian classical poetry and prose and by modern world poets from surrealism and symbolism poetry movements, such as Paul Éluardand Federico Garcia Lorca. He has translated poetry and prose from several European authors into Persian. He is also known for being one of the most prominent advocates of freedom in modern Iran.
Week 4: Sohrab Sepehri was both a well-known poet and painter. He established a new spiritual branch of Persian poetry. Well-versed in Persian mysticism, Buddhism, and Western modern traditions, he created a form of poetry which is both eastern and western. Resembling water color paintings of modern European painters, his poetry uses tender and simple language and evokes deep meanings. He is famous for writing nature poetry. His short life mirrored his poetry. He left the urban life and a secured job, went back to his hometown of Kashan, immersed himself in nature, and dedicated himself to painting and writing poetry.
Week 5: Simin Behbehani: Like Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Behbahani is also celebrated for both her poetry and impactful life. She is known for having reformed the traditional style of ghazal (sonnet) in Persian poetry through expanding the range of verse forms and adding quotidian language to classical poetry. During the 2009 Green Movement Behbahani engaged in cultural, social and political activity for which she is referred to as The Lioness of Iran.
Note: If you don't have access to the Zoom application on a computer, tablet or smart phone, Zoom presentations are also available by dialing in using a landline or cellphone. On the day and time of the course, call 778-907-2071 (within Metro Vancouver) and enter the Meeting ID and Passcode that were given after registering for the course. If you live outside of metro Vancouver, please look up the local phone number for your location at https://zoom.us/u/akJIpJnoy (The calls are muted when you join the meeting, to unmute yourself, please press *6 (as per instructions on the phone).
In House version of this program is currently unavailable.