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.
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…
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
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!
From the Poetry of Iranian Women. Edited by Sheema Kalbasi.
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.
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.
Your tender revolt
Contained by the illicit apple
Pounds in red
And your eyes’ shattered diamond
A woman in seclusion
Revolves into a star
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
Was my room
And wherever I felt unsafe
I gravitated into its eternal sanctuary.
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.
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.
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”