12 Jan 2007, 4:06am


Forough Farrokhzad

Had she not died in a car accident 40 years ago, Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad would have turned 72 years old last week. Farrokhzad was the Sylvia Plath of Iran: beautiful, depressed, unconventional, feminist, and she died very young, though not of suicide. Married in her late teens, she had a baby and got divorced by nineteen, and her first book of poems, Asir, which means “Captive,” was published when she was twenty. She also had a nervous breakdown that year, and was briefly institutionalized. Farrokhzad wrote several other books, though unfortunately it’s really hard to find them, not to mention finding translations. But I think a collection of her poems in Persian, with their straightforward language, would be worth struggling through with middling Persian-reading skills.

Farrokhzad’s poetry marked a paradigm-shift in Iranian verse. In her essay, Unveiling the Other, Farzaneh Milani writes that it’s part of “a [new mid-20th century] tradition of women intensely involved in self-reflection and self-revelation, not sheltered or restrained by the anonymity or opacity of a veil; a tradition of women who not only revealed themselves but also unveiled men in their writings.” It sounds a little like blogging, sans Internet. Forough (which is also spelled Forugh Farrokhzad, Forugh Farokhzad, Furugh Farrukhzad, and etc., in case anyone wants to do more research on her) also wrote and directed a documentary about leprosy entitled “Khaneh Siah Ast,” or “The House is Black.” And this doesn’t really have anything to do with her art, but her look is so prototypically Iranian, especially in this photo – gorgeous dark hair and eyes, and pretty, expressive eyebrows.

Like so many figures that die young, Farrokhzad became a cultural icon. There are some English translations and audio clips, among many fan sites. I think it definitely adds to her popularity that she also lived a very sexually uninhibited life that included affairs with Iranian literati, including Ebrahim Golestan. Her Myspace page has a pretty racy photo on it, too, though I don’t know for sure if that’s her.

And on that note, here’s the poem “Gonah” (“The Sin”), which I found on the Iran Chamber website. Not sure who translated this, but I think it’s a beautiful poem:

The Sin [ Gonah ]

I sinned a sin full of pleasure,
In an embrace which was warm and fiery.
I sinned surrounded by arms
that were hot and avenging and iron.

In that dark and silent seclusion
I looked into his secret-full eyes.
my heart impatiently shook in my breast
In response to the request of his needful eyes.

In that dark and silent seclusion,
I sat dishevelled at his side.
his lips poured passion on my lips,
I escaped from the sorrow of my crazed heart.

I whispered in his ear the tale of love:
I want you, O life of mine,
I want you, O life-giving embrace,
O crazed lover of mine, you.

desire sparked a flame in his eyes;
the red wine danced in the cup.
In the soft bed, my body
drunkenly quivered on his chest.

I sinned a sin full of pleasure,
next to a shaking, stupefied form.
O God, who knows what I did
In that dark and quiet seclusion.

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12 Jan 2007, 8:30pm
by sheshrugged

i’m not sure if i’ve ever seen anyone so beautiful. and if only i could read the original of gonah…

There is a CD of Forough reading her own poetry in her own voice. You can find it through amazon or any of the sites that sell iranian CDs/books/etc… it might be a good alternative for those who would like to hear the poems in the original Farsi, but are not able to read Farsi.

6 Nov 2007, 5:40am
by sheyda

i have been always been intrested in persian poetry that could be translated or original. But Forough is just a diffrent poet i live my life with her poems, if only she new how much she inspires me in my poems.

I really love your web site. It’s great to see other Iranian-Americans reading and studying Farrokhzad, I always worry that she’ll be forgotten in the Diaspora who really seems more interested in classical and epic poetry. Thanks for the links!

17 Mar 2008, 4:51pm
by william bookman

i fell in love with farrokhzad through my persian-farsi class in california. i recited “hadeeay” (in farsi) and received a standing ovation. her poetry moves me and im amazed to think that a woman this strong existed that long ago in an area of the world like that. her works truly touch me, and gave me a greater appreciation for the language.

[...] Sun Flower Game” is a German film, a “true fairytale” about Forough Farrokhzad and Hossein Mansouri. Mansouri was a child when Farrokhzad met (and adopted) him in the leper [...]

31 Mar 2009, 3:11pm
by Mahasti

Wow! Thanks alot. I love her n her poems. To me, she’s always alive in her poems…


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