Friday, 27 June 2014

Azita Ghahreman:a poet from Iran

Azita Ghahreman


Azita Ghahreman is a poet from Iran who writes in Farsi.She was born in Mashhad in 1962. One of Iran's leading poets, she has lived in Sweden since 2006. She is a member of the South Sweden Writers' Union.

She has published five collections of poetry: Eve's Songs (1983), Sculptures of Autumn (1986), Forgetfulness is a Simple Ritual (1992), The Suburb of Crows (2008), (a collection reflecting on he exile in Sweden that was published in both Swedish and Farsi), and Under Hypnosis in Dr Caligari's Cabinet (2012).

Her poems directly address questions of female desire and challenge the accepted position of women.

A collection of Azita's work was published in Swedish in 2009 alongside the work of Sohrab Rahimi and Christine Carlson. She has also translated a collection of poems by the American poet and cartoonist, Shel Silverstein, into Farsi, The Place Where the Sidewalk Ends (2000). And she has edited three volumes of poems by poets from Khorasan, the eastern province of Iran that borders Afghanistan and which has a rich and distinctive history.

Azita's poems have been translated into German, Dutch, Arabic, Chinese, Swedish, French and English.

Azita Ghahreman was one of the poets who took part in the PTC's  Persian Poets' Tour. Her poetry is translated by Maura Dooley and Elhum Shakerifar.

Some of her poems

We stand back to back
to contemplate darkness
and the chirping of rain,
the rain eases
a new season dawns
we turn our heads
to contemplate Spring
but find we no longer know one another.


The corn poppies came first,
then the locusts
and after that the unravelling wind.
That was how childhood looked to you
before the dark water, before the thorns,
before the mountain range of a thousand mosques
cast shadow over those wild flowers.

First the poppies went
then grandmother,
then the royal rooms grew shabby,
the photos of Oppenheimer, Lumumba,
the red furniture  - everything went to the second hand shop.

Joyous accordions and flags of mourning,
Turks and Kurds,
little blue patterned headscarves -
all passed us by in the street.
‘By Appointment to...' the Princes, my mother's brothers,
was stamped on every cup and shisha,
my mother, first in line for Friday prayer, kept her back to me,
my brother joined the Bassij.

First the locusts come, then the poppies
first the  poppies went
then the locusts...

The hollow of the eye    fills with snow,
the valleys of winter are white,
then come the thorns and the dark waters...

Happy Valentine

They say it was like the collision of seven mountains, six oceans and two   hemispheres. Well, they lied.

  • Who told you I love you? I lament to the lilies, Actually, I hate you!
    I will fill your rivers with limes, flood your sheets with ink,
    I'll draw the devil on your pillow and scare the fish with the horns and tail
         I pin on you.
    I'll make my nipples irresistible and put padlocks on my blouse.
    I will cut down every tree on your street and delete your every file,
    I will call your name out backwards, I will steal your shirt,
    I'll smear tar on your windscreen, scatter nails at the bend in the road,
    I'll lock you in the loo and go see a film without a backward glance,
    I'll pop a cockroach in your drink and a drawing pin in your shoe,
    move all the pieces on the board and ruin every game,
    I'll put a desert between us, a whole teeming ocean.
    I'll cut your fancy tie into zig zags, I'll slip explosives into your nervous
          system. Each night I'll fill your ears with wailing banshees.
    I'll let myself change my mind at the drop of a hat but of your every
          move I'll keep a log.
    The very sound of you - Oh god! - it sets my teeth on edge - and, even
    your gloopy eyes, like bowls of syrup, your stink of saffron and red roses,
    your heart full of goodluck goldfish, wriggling up against each other!
    You know what? If you want to ask me something, I'll tell you straight -
           but if you accuse me of anything, I'll just deny it!
    I'll pour a Molotov cocktail into your hair; so you'll look like that picture of
    I'll stick my fingers into your dreams, to mess you up altogether,
    I'll take over your sleep; you'll think there are frogs needling you under
           those sheets.
    I'll turn the sweetest most tender images into ugly ones;
    instead of beautiful birds I'll draw horses in the treetops. You know those
           big fat women on Russian dolls? I'll graffiti them all over your table!I'll make you look like a squirrel crossed with a lion and anteater. 

    Yet I can't just dump you - a tatty, tormenting Tomcat
    that can't even find his own way home.
    Every arrow points to you. This accordion of streets folds back to you.
    But I'm dizzy trying to climb all these summits and towers, trying to learn by heart your long number; these ears and eyes of mine are worn out
          with it.
    I've banged on your walls so hard the plates are smashed to
    You may be far away from my sharp barbs but deep inside me it's as if
          elephants sing, spinning hoops of fire and flowery-skirted bears 
          dance on barrels.
    Your mad jabbering parrots have even got me hooked on an idea of India.
    If only there was some way to tame this dragon, to put the tiger back in
          its cage. If only it could be Spring again,
    before this greedy animal eats up all the white lilies,
    before this monster completely destroys her entire world.

    Love is like a red rose that I tie to the stone of myself and aim at your
    Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.


    In the silence dreams came
    and brought to mind     your silhouette against the sky
    and you    changed  into a bird    carrying hurt bigger than your own
    and this brought to mind       your cold, stained fingers,
    those cut and folded wings placed in an envelope
    and that brought to mind
    how well we fought
    to the bitter end.
    in which you stand like a tree
    putting out green, unfolding leaves,
    bountiful; a lantern glimmering with blood-red fruit
     so much riper than
    the sharp words that cut us short, hollowed us out.
    In this emptiness
    your knife is still sharp
    it has gouged a pit in the passage of years
    full of darkness.
    Silence, in which we carried on,
    making us act out bad dreams,
    enfolding us in all those dark clouds,
    proffering no handy little mirror for you to look in
    and understand
    that rain is brighter than anything your clouds had to offer.


    This sheet that stretches from here to the world's end
     is covered by all that fallen snow.
    Why must we be lost too?
    Just a single stray earring
    shows midst all this whiteness,
    not a tree, not a rabbit, not a star.
    Where are we amongst it all?

    When you chucked the earring in that drawer
    shook out the darkness on the balcony
    and threw the sheets into the laundry basket,
    at the end of that long night
    I died a little.

    It was a fresh, wild garden,
    but every path was covered
    with sheets of snow.
    It is falling now, shrouding everything still ..

    The Boat That Brought Me

    Behind these eyes that look like mine
    old names are fading away, the past lies crumpled in my clenched fist -
    a coppery bird in coppery wind,
    this vast place has covered me from head to toe.

    I am not stripped of word and thought
    but sometimes what I want to say gets lost
    like a moon smudged with cloud, or when I splutter on a drink.
    My tongue trips up when I speak of that journey
    though the blood in my veins felt the truth of death.
    As I traced my footsteps through the tracery of my old language
    Summer whispered to me
    and my frozen fingers began to put out shoots
    even as I began to love the cold ebb and flow of tides.

    Sometimes I miss
    the boat that brought me here,
    now that I am witness to the icy eyes of a Swedish winter,
    under these tired old clouds,
    while that suitcase still holds a patch of the sky-blue me.

    The First Rains of Spring

    It is better to bustle away,
    to be busy with some work or other
    and keep love at bay.
    For when it takes hold
    we find significance everywhere we look,
    the pelican's point of view seems persuasive,
    we long to learn the language of lizards,
    even an ant's dizzying ascent looks meaningful.
    And what have we gained from it?
    Only the last winds of autumn,
    the first rains of spring.

    When Winter Comes

    When winter comes
    I will look in the mirror and know myself again.
    On fire with ideas, my books were burning.
    My daughter came to me in dreams, a deer running,
    a deer that had me flee to the mountains.
    Well, I can hug those mountains,
    see how they nestle in my arms?

    There was nothing to be afraid of after all.
    The scale of these things is just a matter of perspective,
    and even when we fall, we rise up again,
    the sea looks calmer,
    the fluffy white dog is back on its lead.
    So don't berate me, 
    don't blame me,
    don't beat me up about it,
    don't make me weep blood. 
    Count the passing years on your fingers,
    they are galloping by like a wild, dark horse
    and the only thing at the end of that path is winter.

    When winter comes
    we can go in one of two directions,
    we can get lost
    or we can find ourselves again.
    I shouldn't have been frightened,
    I should have said, why torture yourself?

    So that those shadows melt away leaving just me in the mirror again.

    With a Red Flower

    Wearing a poppy
    leave behind those black clothes,
    the flags of mourning,
    the tired, disconsolate streets.
    This is the only way forward.
    Wearing your red flower
    climb from between these handwritten lines,
    turn from the empty space of this paper
    and step into my memories.

    Come! Meet me
    in that shabby old house,
    where now the pipes are rusty,
    the shutters lost in ivy and long grass,
    where cobwebs and whispers have
    settled over everything,
    where, after all these years,
    sorrow is the only dustsheet.

    Come back to me, hide your fears,
    wearing your red flower, come back,
    but take care that no one sees
    the route that brought you here from Heaven.