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Articles tagged "Iran"

Crafting a Cultural Idiom of Engagement: The US President’s Persian Poetry (Part 2)

This the second part of a two-part series on president Barack Obama's use of Persian poetry as a diplomatic tool. Click here to read part one. In his 2015 message, as he had done previously in 2013, the president quoted from the poetry of Hafez. Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez of Shiraz, who died near the end of the fourteenth century, may not be as well known in the West as his predecessor Jalal al-Din “Rumi”—one of the best-selling poets in the US today—but his...

Crafting a Cultural Idiom of Engagement: The US President’s Persian Poetry (Part 1)

The events culminating in the interim agreement between Iran and the members of the P5+1 group in Lausanne, Switzerland over Iran’s nuclear program are sure to attract historians wishing to understand how two countries with minimal diplomatic ties (severed more than three decades ago) were able to reach a political agreement and perhaps begin a chapter of more normalized relations. In particular, analyses are likely to focus on the role of sanctions, meant to isolate the Iranian...

Lamb

Ghulam Ali traded in grains and spices. He carried produce of the very best quality. Not everyone could afford it. Unlike other merchants in Golpayegan who traded on barter, or offered credit, Ghulam Ali never kept a credit ledger in his shop. He bought with cash and sold likewise. He never compromised on that principle. And perhaps that was the reason for his reputation for miserliness. Every morning, before he left the house for work, he would call out to his wife, “Kokab, do...

Farsi

Persian

A Revolutionary Tradition: Shoars in Iranian Street Politics

As images of the bloody crackdown by government militias and plainclothes policemen on the peaceful demonstrations were broadcast after the controversial results of the tenth presidential elections in Iran in late June 2009, the world was reminded of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Even if Iran's political institutions have so far remained intact in the face of the recent agitation, its political culture has forever changed, perhaps even reverted to the revolutionary state of 1979, a...

Encounter

Don't you hear—the door of the next compartment just opened? It has to be a ticket taker. Who else gets the words out like that? Everything so clear and distinct: —Gutten Tag, geben Sie mir bitte! Feverish, tense, you try to calm your rapid breathing. Your glance fixes sideways at the dark, shining window. Only, you can't see the landscapes coursing into the night. You're in an express, an intercity. —Den Fahrschein Bitte! You pat your pockets as if...

Friends

A warden takes me by the arm as I slip on my blindfold and step out of the cell. I'm led down several corridors and seated down somewhere as a door swings shut behind me. I raise my head to peer out from underneath my blindfold, and see I'm facing the wall, in a concrete cell with no windows. Half an hour goes by and I realize I'm trembling with increasing intensity, the muscles in my lower abdomen undergoing unfamiliar jarring motions. In mythico-historical allure,...

Encounter

I have a feeling that it is a mistake to go to the party at Mr. M.'s, especially under the circumstances. Things have tightened up once more. Again scarves have to be pulled down all the way to the eyebrows and legs covered in thick, black stockings. Again the loose-fitting, ankle-length smocks have to be worn. They are once again slashing women's bare legs with razors and shaving the heads of young boys or publicly flogging them in city squares. And yet no one is really scared or...

The Neighbor

All of us-myself, my children, and the friends who now and then drop to see us-are scared stiff of our neighbor on the floor below. Our life as expatriates in Paris is full of hidden anxieties and emotions. There is, first of all, a feeling of guilt for having come as strangers from across the border to encroach upon the rights of the native inhabitants. Underneath this guilty feeling lurks a silent, seething rage that must be suppressed, and a nagging sense of humiliation waiting for...

The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons

Mehrabad Airport, Tehran. Air France, flight 726 I hate this life of constant wandering, these eternal comings and goings, these middle of the night flights, dragging along my suitcase, going through Customs and the final torture, the humiliating body search. "Take off your shoes, open your handbag, let's see inside of your pockets, your mouth, your ears, your nostrils, your heart and mind and soul." I am exhausted. I feel homesick—can you believe it? Already homesick. And yet...

Doors, Windows, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control

The Cuban novelist, essayist, musicologist, and diplomat Alejo Carpentier was celebrated during his lifetime as one of the greatest Latin American novelists of the twentieth century, and his reputation has only grown since his death in 1980. His own books, and the many books, articles and doctoral theses that continue to be written about his work, circulate widely in many languages, and lately more so than ever, since 2004 was the centennial of his birth. Though Carpentier has never had...

Eagles

One stands on the mountains of my country as if on a grave. An abandoned grave; no one knows who lies buried there. During the winter nothing is visible. In spring when the snow has melted, the graves emerge, but they are quickly covered again with wildflowers. It is as if nature were afraid that the graves might be discovered. When mountain climbers come across such a grave they start singing songs against the dictatorship. They approach the grave, singing. They set down their...

from At the Borderline

Set in the border triangle of Iran, Irak, and Turkey, Im Grenzland [At the Borderline] is the story of an Iraqi Kurd who makes his living as a smuggler. Having bought a map of landmines from a former soldier, the smuggler negotiates a path through the war-torn border region to bring items that have become luxuries (due to embargo) back into his country. On each trip he unearths land mines on his way out of the country and buries them on his way back. He reads the empty landscape like a...

Iran in Theater

Last summer in New York, two Iranian theatre events cracked open a small window on a dramatically alien world. Each made its impact without benefit of a text that could be comprehended by the audience; and each in a very different way was emblematic of the chasm to be bridged in transposing theatre successfully from one culture to another. Atilla Pessyani's Mute Dream succeeded on its own terms by avoiding language altogether. On a set caged by wire net, a muffled and shrouded...

The Fish

I think my heart has never been like this so warm and red. I feel even in the worst moments of this fatal night several thousand sun-springs in my heart surge up from deep certainty. I feel in every nook and cranny of these salt flats of despair several thousand wonderfully wet forests suddenly spring from the earth. * Oh certainty gone astray, oh runaway fish in the ponds of slippery mirror within mirror! I am a clear lagoon; now through the enchantment...

from The Moon and the Leopard

In The Moon and the Leopard, author Bijan Mofid developed a hint from a folk tale into a verse drama about the tragic love of the Leopard King for the Moon, first glimpsed as a reflection in a mountain spring. The Moon responds in kind, descending to earth-though she remains always just out of reach-to engage the Leopard in a poetic dialogue expressing their impossible and doomed love. By stopping in her course, the Moon stops time, leaving the world in an endless, freezing night. The...

from Cuneiform

Hadjar bore seven children. Aga Akbar was the youngest, and he was born deaf and mute. She knew it even in the first month. She saw that he didn't react. But she didn't want to believe it. She never left him alone, and no one else was allowed to stay with him for long. For six months she kept that up. Everyone knew the child was deaf, but no one was allowed to speak of it. Until, finally, Kazem Khan, Hadjar's eldest brother, felt it was time to get involved. Kazem Khan...

Freedom Can Be a Nightmare: An Interview with Kader Abdolah

This interview was originally published August 12, 1995, in NRC Handelsblad. A unique phenomenon in Dutch literature: Kader Abdolah, a political refugee from Iran who writes little gems of stories—in Dutch. It took him only five years to master the language. How did he do it? And what keeps him going? Kader Abdolah talks about his "terrible youth" in Iran, the struggle against the Shah and Khomeini, and about the exile's dilemma. "The Dutch language is overflowing the banks of...

from A Little Less Conversation

Golmohamad turns and makes for the cab. The driver nods and mumbles politely as he turns the key in the ignition. He's wearing a light gray suit and looks like a young Leonid Brezhnew. As they drive down Hafez Avenue, Golmohamad is struck by the fact that in Tehran, you're rarely more than twenty feet away from a pizzeria serving cheeseburgers in a setting of purple bathroom tiles, fake black marble, and pink neon, with syrupy Iranian soft-rock in the background. The driver...

from Snow over Tehran

The smell of breakfast and cigarettes permeated the street around the teahouse. On his way in, Bahman recognized the errand boy from the public bath who was coming out with a tray of breakfast. "Hello, Mr. Bahman." "Hello. It seems you're open?" "It was finally our turn to get heating oil last night. We were tanking up during the bombing." "Save a place for me. I'm coming." "There's no need. No one knows we're open yet." The snowbound heights of the Alborz...

Iran as Cinema

The movie theater I found myself in was called Freedom; it stood on the corner of two main boulevards that, like the majority of streets in Tehran, are named after martyrs of the revolution: Martyr Beheshti, Martyr Eslamboli. Several hundred people could have easily fit in that space, but at most only twenty were there. Three soldiers sat a few rows ahead of me, munching on bags of salted melon seeds, cracking jokes every time the film we all were supposed to be watching failed to deliver...
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