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New Poetry Anthology

New Poetry Anthology

The Poetry of Iranian Women. Edited by Sheema Kalbasi

 Celebrated poet and activist, Sheema Kalbasi, has brought out a new anthology of Persian poetry. You can sample a few poems from this collection below.

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The Arts know no national boundaries. The Republic of Arts and Letters encompasses the entire world. For too long, those in power across the globe have benefited mightily, cynically from pitting group against group, nation against nation, and we all suffer as a result. We suffer in the lack of understanding that acompanies a parochial vision, a narrow vision, a limited range of experiences. We suffer from the loss of genius and innovation. No government should restrict us from meetings with the widest array of human nature and Nature Herself. Open the doors, the windows!! Open the curtains! Remove the veil!! Cross the seas! Cross every sea! It’s time to beat proverbial swords into plowshares and share art, philosophy, literature and music with all for all. Imagine.


The Secret

The Secret


I am a woman. Simply.
To look at me is a sin —
I must be veiled.
To hear my voice is a temptation
that must be hushed.
For me to think is a crime
so I must not be schooled.
I am to bear it all
and die quietly, without complaint.
Only then can I be admitted to the court of God
where I must repose naked on a marble cloud
feed virtuous men succulent grapes
pour them wine from golden vats
and murmur songs of love…
Sholeh Wolpé

That old man sitting on the bench
is you, a little boy biking around
Your hair is now white, spread
by the traces of age
and I? My youthful skin
has persistent wrinkles of regret
Mahboubeh Shadzi

Locks on the bolt
Secrets behind the doors
And the moist Jasmine perfume
Panting at the night
The jar of thirst in a summer afternoon
This musky willow shade and I
These birds and I, do not sing!
Mahshid Naghashpor

From the Poetry of Iranian Women. Edited by Sheema Kalbasi.
Copyright ©2009. Sheema Kalbasi. All Rights Reserved.
Sheema Kalbasi, born November 1972 in Tehran, Iran, is a human rights advocate, an award winning poet, and literary translator. Kalbasi is the director and the co-director of several literary projects including the the Other Voices International Project Anthology. She has published two books of poetry and two anthologies of poems. Her poems have also been anthologized in several literary periodicals. Her poetry has been translated into eighteen languages to date. She has co-authored more than 50 poems with American, Italian, Egyptian, Iranian, Indian, and French poets in English. Kalbasi’s work is distinguished by her passionate defense of ethnic and religious minorities’ rights. She has done voluntary teaching and tutoring of Baha’i refugee children as well as Iraqi Kurdish children, and disadvantaged Pakistani children in Pakistan.
Kalbasi has worked for the United Nations and the Center for non Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, and in Denmark. Today she lives with her husband and children in the United States. In 2009 she signed an open letter of apology posted to along with 266 other Iranian academics, writers, artists, journalists about the Persecution of Bahá’ís.

New Poetry and a Short Film

New Poetry and a Short Film

We have some new poetry on tap from Sheema Kalbasi, Alessio Zanelli and Tony Jones. Sheema also tipped me off to a very good short film and hopes our readers will view the movie here.

The filmmaker in question, Hossein Martin Fazeli, is also a poet. One I hope to publish here soon.



If I had another life to live, I think I would be a filmmaker. The ability to make art that way, to combine prose, poetry, music, soundscapes, landscapes, paintings, photography, motion. It has it all. And I don’t think that “all” has been fully exploited. One could do a life of a poet, a musician, a novelist, a painter, a philosopher. One could utilize most of our senses and hint at the rest. He or she could create a world and go beyond any one form of art by itself.

Of course, it can not match the sustained connection between reader and writer provoked by the greatest works of literature, or focus our attention on one image like the greatest paintings and sculptures, but it could place and replace words on the screen to stir different emotions and links. It could and should provoke us to experience the multiplicity of art forms in a single sitting. Never to be the end all and be all. But one more catalyst. One more outreach program. One more initiation experience to beat the band.


Paper Spoon: India Meets Persia

Paper Spoon: India Meets Persia

Paper Spoon

This night holds me so tightly in its palm,
as if to never love another, but outside
what remains is the inheritance
and an unfriendly notice.
I fumble through the memories, recalling
promises of life, never loving another.
Softly, I wait until the lush beginning
comes to me. I am pale yet ripe,
seasoned with night clouds,
wondering how the skin is perfected
before the portrait of a wrinkled woman,
from my kitchen to yours, is secretly hung.
My heart weighs the love and lust
as I sprawl within this page, inking
aloneness, swinging the papers
or a naked spoon inward.

–by Lekshmy Rajeev and Sheema Kalbasi


Lekshmy Rajeev is a poet, and literary journalist and translator in English. Her poems have been published in many highly regarded literary magazines & journals. She has translated The Narayaneeyam, a devotional Sanskrit work in the form of a poetical hymn. For over the period of two years she wrote a monthly column on living Indian poets titled ‘Pebbles’ for Deccan Herald newspaper’s Sunday Magazine. She is currently working on the meaning of ancient Indian spiritual texts.
Sheema Kalbasi is a human rights advocate, an award winning poet, and literary translator. Her work is distinguished by her passionate defense of the ethnic and religious minorities’ rights. Her poetry has been translated into eighteen languages to date.
Copyright © 2008 by Sheema Kalbasi and Lekshmy Rajeev. All Rights Reserved.

Seven Valleys of Love

Seven Valleys of Love

Two poems from Sheema Kalbasi’s new bilingual anthology of Persian poetry:

Seven Valleys of Love: Translated by Sheema Kalbasi



Your tender revolt
Contained by the illicit apple
Pounds in red
And your eyes’ shattered diamond
A woman in seclusion
Revolves into a star
With you
On the surface of water
I am thirsty
Place the skies in your eyes
Blaze out the star
So that I can see you
The sea is peaceful

–Mehri Rahmani

Those days
Was my room
And wherever I felt unsafe
I gravitated into its eternal sanctuary.
These days
There aren’t any rooms
That can harbor me against the crowd
and behind every window
inside and outside every room
a two-faced clown sneers.


–by Fereshteh Sari


Copyright © 2008 by Sheema Kalbasi. All Rights Reserved.

Echoes in Exile

Echoes in Exile

We have some new poetry, this time from Sheema Kalbasi, an excellent poet I had the pleasure to meet last year at a book festival. There is something unique, exquisite and dreamy in her work, something that informs and amplifies the images of war and peace, tragedy and freedom, family, love and laughter she depicts. She is intrepid.


Have added yet more new poetry and some aphorisms to the Spinozablue mix. An Italian poet and an Egyptian-American aphorist, both of whom bring something truly out of the ordinary to these pages. Alessio Zanelli and Yahia Lababidi are young poets, already with an international following and deserve wider recognition.



Two Poems by Sheema Kalbasi

Two Poems by Sheema Kalbasi


I wear your perfume on my skin
Don’t be unkind
Like wild flowers shy under the sun

Don’t seek the truth,
I tell you none exists
Everything has an expiration date
Love, life, identity, even abnormality.

We are travelers,
Some of us just leave the suitcase at home
So that our hands won’t suffer the weight of our guilt.


New England

Children are playing next to the ocean coast
and sand castles are built with their digging
hands symphonized with their joyous laughter.
Near the beach, sea rocks are thirsty to move

from sitting next to the New England attic rooms.

The air is cooling down and the little kids
are now nesting on the rocks, trying to get away
from the cool summer breeze, chilled afternoon winds
and the dancing waves.

My little girl is one of the children, and with dreamy eyes
she is pretending to be waving at the Beluga Whales,
the wave makers of the sea … from coast to coast.

The beach and the people are getting ready for
today’s close-up and I hear my voice: “Dokhtaram, Bia!
We have to say goodbye to the sea and the whales.

Her little body fully clothed floats across
the air, arms in the hands of her father
and after two more rotations, is satisfied to close
her wings for the evening ride.

She slips the shelves and shadows of
her new found friends within the
walls of her night’s dream before
another summer-morning lights the start of the day
for her to watch the length of her footsteps
on the sands next to the white waters and dancing waves.

*Dokhtaram, Bia: in Persian it means, “Come my girl”

–by Sheema Kalbasi
Sheema Kalbasi is a human right activist, an award winning poet, and literary translator.
Copyright © 2008 Spinozablue and Sheema Kalbasi. All rights reserved.

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