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My thanks to David Lehman and Stacey Harwood for inviting me to guest blog for the week. My week of blogging concludes with a brief recommended bibliography of Iranian-American writing. Of course there is much more than this, and I’m sure to regret missing some books as soon as I post. (Fellow Iranian-American writers, please don’t hate me if I leave you out; this is not easy, and keep in mind I’m basically a house husband when I’m not writing, with 2 young boys intent on destroying the house unless supervised). By all means add on in the comments section... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
To blog is to post to a community, so I thought for this penultimate entry as guest blogger I’d start there, with the value of sharing our work and thoughts about writing with others. As authors we obviously presume an audience, even if it’s in our heads. Community, though, is quite different. It involves give and take support among other writers that exists far beyond the mere workshop. I’m sure this sounds obvious to the point of cliché in the age of so many MFA programs made to accommodate and acculturate developing writers to community. Having written very much in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
After finishing a review of Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati’s new translation of the modern Persian poet Sohrab Sepehri’s long poem Water’s Footfall, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Iranian culture’s long and inventive accommodation of other traditions. Art in the United States from its inception has appropriated traditions so well that at times it seems Americans, myself included, think that they invented the kind of radical intertextuality that so defines our contemporary aesthetic. I’ll not go deep into Sepehri’s work or the translation of it, but the gist of what I continued to find in revisiting this... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
A quick entry today, yet one keeping with the Persian connection and the aforementioned quote by one of the old masters summarizing the classical verse of Iran: “The poetry is in the rhyme.” So a list of some memorable, and at times favorite, rhymes. There are some from poetry, but I’ve tried to explore further territory. I’m also going to qualify these as I don’t offer them as the all time best. Some I merely adore for how they work in context of the greater work, theme, etc. Again, I’m selfishly setting something in motion in hopes of reading a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
Tattoos, unlike smoking, remain pretty cool. They’re also here to stay (and in keeping with the loose Persian connections, please allow the pun). I thought of introducing a brief collage of poetry tattooed on strangers and friends. Of course I suspected something like this had been done before, but I had no idea of the quality nor the extent of such projects. Before briefly exploring some Persian connections and implications of this topic, I want to thank writer Facebook friends for introducing me to a couple of great publications: Editors Kim Addonizio and Cheryl Dumesnil have created an anthology of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
My experience with the ghazal, as both a translator from the classical Persian as well as an Iranian-American poet writing in the form in English), gets me thinking comparatively, both in terms of time and space. New translations of any great writing will always appear, in part because literary styles change along with a reading audience. Thinking about how this form reaches from the 13th and 14th centuries to today, even as it spans regions (from Iran to America), continues to offer a kind of intercultural space for some postmodern funkiness. I didn’t think, out of all the things in... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
“Lil’ Wayne writes ghazals.” This from Program Coordinator and poet Reynold Martin to the amazing group of teens doing spoken word (and so much more) at Urban Word as he introduced the workshop I gave on the ghazal a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to poets doing well with the form in English—especially the likes of Marilyn Hacker, Suzanne Gardinier, and the late Agha Shahid Ali—more often than not the form needs little introduction. Thankfully, it also lends itself to so much clever invention in our trans-cultural age that it spontaneously receives an introduction like the one from Reynold. One... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2011 at The Best American Poetry
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Aug 20, 2011