I first met Haji Khavari during my last visit to Iran a few summers ago. My cousin, knowing my interest in translating Persian poetry, introduced me to him at a party of artist types much younger and cooler than me.
At that time, Haji showed me a few handwritten poems, and though they were far inferior to the ones I’ve translated here, I found them refreshingly edgy, reflective of Iran’s educated and rather restless youth. Given my own predilections, I was even more intrigued with his use of architecture and philosophy in his verse. He was at the time studying these subjects in college. In a follow-up email upon my return home, when I learned of his interest in Jean Baudrillard, I knew this was the beginning of a worthwhile correspondence.
Khavari, like modern Persian poets who came before him, retains much of his own tradition while eagerly absorbing others. At times it’s almost as if he’s bringing a kind of western art criticism to his own culture. Of course such intertextual allusions of literatures warrants foregrounding, but for such a vast poetic tradition predicated on musicality, it’s important also to include music. While Forough Farrokhzad had her Beatles, Haji Khavari listens to songs from Radiohead to the Ramones. I can’t say if the reader of his poems in the original or in translation can overtly hear such influences, but they certainly are felt in what I would call his intellectual yet intransigent sensibility.
As for the process of translation, almost all work is done by email correspondence. Like so many young Iranians, Khavari speaks and reads English relatively well, so at times my renderings become a kind of collaboration. I’ve offered to share credit, but he insists that I’m doing the real translation work. We send drafts back and forth for some time, highlighting and noting problem areas.
As of now, he has yet to publish his first collection in Iran, but based on what he’s shown me, I’d say one should be forthcoming soon.
– Roger Sedarat
Nader Naderpour (1929 -2000) was born in Tehran and received his early education in Europe. He returned to Iran to publish his first collection of poetry in the 1940s. In the later 1960’s, he helped found “The Association of Writers of Iran and directed the literature department of the Iranian National Radio and Television Department. He fled the Iranian Revolution in 1980, living in France until the late 1980’s, when he moved to the United States. Regarded as one of the leaders of the movement of “New Poetry” in Iran, he published ten collections of poems. Naderpour was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Grant in 1993.
– Roger Sedarat and Rouhollah Zarei
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We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
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