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Posts Tagged ‘Ahmad Shamlu’

Windows on Iran 24

Esfahan (or Isfahan) (above), click on the link at the end of this 'Window' to see many more stunningly beautiful pictures of the city of Esfahan, its gardens, and historical sites.

Esfahan (or Isfahan) (above), click on the link at the end of this 'Window on Iran' to see many more stunningly beautiful pictures of the city of Esfahan, its gardens, and historical sites.

Dear All,

I hope you are well. Window number 24 on Iran comes with a bit of
delay. End of March is the busiest time in the semester. Departmental
responsibilites are growing. Teaching is going on full force. Now, add
public speaking and local outreach. In other words, all is well!

I wish I could say the same for the current news about Iran:

* On Saturday March 27, U. N. Security Council passed its Resolution
1747.  In this resolution, the Security Council builds on its previous
decision to impose sanctions on Tehran by banning exports from Iran
and imposing a freeze on the financial assets of 28 individuals and
entities. After lengthy negotiations, the text takes into account some
of the concerns expressed by South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, such
as the acknowledgment that all parties to the NPT, including Iran,
have a right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The resolution
also includes mechanisms for future negotiation with Iran and
reference to a nuclear-free Middle East. The mood inside Iran is
anxious.

* American mainstream media keeps alive the possibility of an Iranian
“role” in American casualities through roadside bombs in Iraq. Today’s
NY Times (March 27) has an entire page devoted to it, complete with
technical details and images. Buried inside the article are
significant pieces of information that undermine the whole claim:
“most bombing attacks and most American deaths have been caused by
less sophisticated devices favored by Sunni insurgents, not Shiite
militias linked to Iran.” Further down, unnamed experts on military
matters are quoted to the effect that “the weapons could be made in
Iraq.” The article also has hints about some Iranians being positively
” involved in economic and social programs in Iraq.” There is a tiny
refence to the possibility that “other countries in the region, too,
were supplying insurgents in Iraq” and the fact that the current U.S.
administration might be “using the E.F.P. issue to distract attention
from the difficulties in Iraq.”  Alas, what the general readership
will see, yet again, is an image of a “hostile and dangerous” Iran. I
wonder how many will remember, as they read, that we live in the
western hemisphere that owns the biggest military industrial complex
in the world and supplies many countries with weapons.

Come See Us Perform!

Because we must nurture the possibilities of peace which live in our
persons, my friend Dr. Alice Bloch and I have prepared an hour of
dance and reading (I read, Alice is a great dancer) which we will
perform this coming Thursday night, March 29, at 7:30 at the Central
Reform Congregation in St. Louis. It is a two woman (one Muslim, one
Jewish) celebration of friendship, love for peace, and resistance to
aggression of all kinds. If you are in the vicinity of St. Louis, stop
by to see us perform!

"Happy Nowrouz," a beautiful piece of calligraphy by Reza Tanha.

"Happy Nowrouz," a beautiful piece of calligraphy by Reza Tanha.

Visual Delight

* If you thought exquisite Persian calligraphy was a thing of the past, think again! Here is one (right) from master calligrapher currently living in Japan, Reza Tanha. Thanks Reza Jan! I hope you don’t mind me sharing this treasure with a few thousand friends! I mentioned last week Iranians send around very interesting Nowruz greeting cards wishing each other a Happy New Year. Since you just viewed one with exquisite calligraphy, I thought to include one with miniature painting. Below is a Nowruz card with a miniture painting from the most important Persian epic Shahnameh, “The Book of Kings,” composed in 10th century CE. The manuscript illustration that you see was done in the 17th century.

Nowrouz Card with image from Shahnameh (Book of Kings).

Nowrouz Card with a miniature painting from Shahnameh (Book of Kings).

* In the last window, I sent you the link to an excellent critique of
the movie ‘300’ that demonizes the ancient Iranian civilization. The
link does not seem to have worked, sorry. Here it is again:
http://www.iranian.com/Daryaee/2007/March/300/index.html

* Talking about Persian art, here is very interesting information about
the advance knowledge of math by Iranian architects:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070223/sc_nm/architecture_patterns_dc&printer=1;_ylt=AtoYENMhwvtwKSYZKfww5IgiANEAPart

Ahmad Shamlu, one of the greatest Iranian/Persian poets of the twentieth century.

Ahmad Shamlu, one of the greatest Iranian/Persian poets of the twentieth century.

* One of the great poets of twentieth century Iran, Ahmad Shamlu, spent a year at Berkeley, California a number of years ago. He wrote a Safarnameh “travel account” in Persian a part of which has been recorded on tape. Here is the link to a recording in Shamlu’s own voice (for those of you who know Persian):
http://www.peiknet.com/1385/hafteh/01esfand/page/38shamlu.htm

More Visual Delight

Instead of our regular painting exhibit which usually end these windows, I would like to give you a VERY beautiful new slide show of Isfahan. Click here (Isfahan Pictures) for a wonderful series of images from the historic city of Isfahan in Iran, courtesy of my wonderful cousin Abe Massoudi. I tried to get the slides to rotate (unsuccessfully). You can right click on each slide to move forward. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful rest of the week.
Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Iranian American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. She has also recently began playing the setar.

Iranian-American Dr. Lily Afshar is considered to be one of the worlds best female guitar players. More recently, she has also began playing the Persian instrument setar (see below for more information).

Greetings everyone,

I hope you have all had a great weekend. Many thanks for all your kind notes and for joining the listserv. I received enthusiastic comments about the calligraphy exhibit that I sent in window number 9. I am glad you enjoyed them and will keep an eye open from more calligraphic works I can send.

As usual, please give me about two weeks to get back to you if you have any questions. If you send me a kind note of support or ideas for future windows, I might not be able to respond simply because of the volume of correspondence. Please forgive me. I do read all your e-mails with great interest. If you signed on during the past two days, you will get this window (and the previous windows, if you asked for them) with a day or two delay. Again, that is because it usually takes JoAnn and I a couple of days to process new requests.

Current Issues:

* I did not find Iran in the headlines (itself amazing news).
Instead, I attach an informative interview with Dr. Trita Parsi
the US-based scholar on Iran (and the current President of NIAC).
He talks about the position of Iranian politicians, the executive
powers of the Iranian President, and possibilities of diplomatic
solutions to the nuclear standoff, among other things:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1543504,00.html

Iranian Americans:

* The prominent Iranian American I would like to introduce to you
this week is again a musician. This is, in fact, one of the top
female classical guitar players in the world, Dr. Lily Afshar.
Born and raised in Iran, Lily Afshar completed her graduate work
in music at the Boston Conservatory. She has been teaching in
University of Memphis since 1989 and, at the same time, has been
performing internationally. More recently, she has started the
Persian instrument setar. To see a picture of Lily Afshar and read
about her achievements, click on:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_Afshar
Isfahan Slide Show:

* As you can see I have not forgotten the slide show I promised last
week on the historic city of Isfahan. After I sent my slide show
on Shiraz, a friend wrote that he included the topic of Shiraz in
one of his lectures so he could share the slides with his
students. I hope you find the slides of Isfahan equally beautiful
and usable in the classroom. Just click here: Beautiful and Historic City of Isfahan, Iran.

Naqshe Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in the historic city of Isfahan.

A Major Contemporary Persian Ghazal Writer:

*Reference to Persian poetry usually evokes thought of classical figures such as Omar Khayyam, Hafez and Rumi. From time to time, the modern verse of Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlu and others of their generation becomes available in English. Twentieth century Iranian poets are known almost exclusively for their reformist tendencies that transformed classical genres into what Iranians now call ‘shi’re now,’ literally “new poetry.” In this poetry, figures such as Farrokhzad introduced wonderfully fresh ideas which were not considered fit for poetry before. In the poem “From darkness,” for example, Farrokhzad wrote:
I  called you
my whole being held in my hands
like a bowl of milk
the moon glanced blue on the panes

The fact that is almost entirely unknown outside Iran — because
very little translation has been done — is that twentieth century
Iran has great ghazal writers some comparable to Sa’di and Hafiz
only writing their ghazals in a new poetic language. Houshang
Ebtehaj with pen name Sayeh (b. 1927) is one such master poet. For
a recent photo of Ebtehaj during a poetry reading click on
http://saamhouse.co.uk/gallery/archives/000029.php#000029 . Despite
the imposing look, and his reputation as a poet with political and
social comittment, Ebtehaj has a vast quantity of gentle lyric
poetry in ghazal form (as well as many in modern poetry). To my
knowledge, there are no English translations of these ghazals. If
you read Persian click on
http://www.easypersian.com/houshang_ebtehaj/sineh_sardan.htm to
see a couple of the ghazals in Persian (and a short and basic
biography in English).

* On the topic of classical persian poetry, if you are interested in
reading stories from Firdowsi’s classical epic Shahnameh/The Book
of Kings
as comic books, click on:
http://www.hyperwerks.com/series/rostam_chara1.html (courtesy of
Ladan Foroughi).

Iranian Cinema:

* Iranian women’s most recent international achievements have
included the movie “Friday Evening,” Mona Zandi’s directional
debut, which won the special jury prize in Cologne film Festival
last week: http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1170.html.  In fact,
the festival dedicated an entire section to Iranian women film
makers. On the topic of cinema, another Iranian (this time male)
director Azizollah Hamidnejad won the Tegernsee Award for his film
“Tears of Cold” in the Mountain Film Festival held in Germany,
Oct. 18-22.

Visual Delight:

* I leave you with two oil paintings by the young painter Adel
Younesi. The theme of both is street side peddlers. I find them
both delightful: http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3474 and
another one on the same theme
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3473

Have a great week.
Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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Beautiful Qashqai women in Iran. The Qashqai are one of Irans many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information).

Beautiful Qashqa'i women of Iran in their colorful traditional dresses. The Qashqa'i are one of Iran's many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information about them and other ethnic groups).

Greetings Everyone!

I don’t know how to thank you for all your kind messages, for forwarding these windows to others, and for recommending it. Over thirty names have been added to the list in the past two days alone. All I can say is I am delighted these windows have so many onlookers. Welcome to window number eight!

Current Issues

* On the last day of House legislative business, Iran sanctions advocates pushed through legislation ( HR 6198 ) strengthening sanctions and promoting a policy of regime-change in Iran.
Managing the bill on the House floor, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen made the
case that IFSA’s policies complemented US diplomatic activity.
“Sanctions target the Iranian regime where it is most vulnerable:
its energy sector,” said Ros-Lehtinen in her opening remarks.
Leading a bipartisan corps of members who spoke in opposition to
the measure, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) characterized the latest
version of the Iran Freedom Support Act (IFSA) as a “cruise
missile” and stated that, “the timing for this legislation could
not be worse.” Right he is. The most immediate impact of this
“cruise missile” — besides hurting ordinary people not the regime
— is weakening the moderates within the Iranian political sphere.
The hard-liners will loose no time in using this legislation to
remind the country that America is indeed Iran’s enemy.

Nothing heals like a good poem! In response to this aggressive move,
let’s read together a stanza from a great classic of twentieth century
Persian poetry by Ahmad Shamlu (b.1925), Shamlu, known as the “Poet of
Liberty,” faced hostility by the Shah’s regime and remained out of favor
with the Islamic Republic. He wrote some of the most poignant
revolutionary, as well as lyrical, poems of modern Persian language.
Here is an excerpt from a poem he dedicated to his wife Aida called
“Aida in the Mirror” translated by my good friend Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
(University of Maryland):

Tempests play magnificently a tiny flute
in your grand dance
And the singing of your veins makes the sun of always rise
(Let me rise from sleep so that the lanes of the city
perceive my presence).

Your hands are reconciliation
and friends helping that hostilities may be forgotten

Suggested Reading: An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry, selected and
translated by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak ( Westview Press, 1978 ) Still is
available through Amazon Books.

Science

* On a much happier note, Iran’s cloned sheep born yesterday is
alive and kicking, reported Iranian doctors in the Royan
research center in Isfahan. More significantly, a combination of
the cloning methods and the new progress made by Iranian
physicians in the field of spinal injuries has created
possibilities of curing those suffering from spinal damages,
Nasr-Esfahani said. Iranian specialists recently announced a
breakthrough in curing spinal injuries with the culture of Schwann
cells enabling those suffering from paralysis to move. For cute
pictures of the newly born cloned sheep click on the first link
below (here the text is Persian)
http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-799766&Lang=P

For more reading on the subject, click on this link:
http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-16/0610015225123117.htm and
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1015.html

Social

* This is the Children’s week in Iran. Each day is devoted to a
topic such as “Children and Health”, “Children and Equal
Opportunities,” etc. The United Nations International Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) will participate in the events. Activists such as
Shirin Ebadi have been instrumental in drawing attention to
children’s rights in Iran. More needs to be done, particularly in
relation to minority children such as abandoned children of
Afghani fathers who have returned to Afghanistan after the
collapse of the Taliban regime.

* Many of you have been asking questions about ethnic minorities in
Iran. I will keep an eye open for material. Iran’s ethnic
diversity is truly amazing. Of course, like everywhere else, all
kinds of jokes and stereotypes are attached to each group. In
general, however, people are fairly used to hearing different
languages and seeing different costumes on the street. The nomadic
Qashqa’is, for example, still wear their very colorful dresses.
Click on this link to see a beautiful young Qashqai girl in
festive outfit (center of the page):
http://www.11iran.com/Z2INDEX.HTM . To get a general idea of
Iranian ethnic diversity and its geographical distribution click
on:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_minorities_in_Iran

Prominent Iranian Americans:

* This week’s personality is Google’s senior vice president for
global sales Mr. Omid Kordestani, 42. He joined  the company a
year after its establishment as its “business founder” and is
viewed as a force behind Google’s success. Here is the link if you
like to read more (courtesy of my friend Bahar Bastani):
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187475,00.html
Also, I must apologize for sending the wrong link on the Harvard
Scientist Nima Arkani in the last window. Instead of just a
picture, I meant to send this brief description of his impressive
work:
http://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/arkani-hamed.html

Art and Culture

* If you are off to France, don’t miss the exhibition of more than
200 items from the last major pre-Islamic Persian empire the
Sassanians on view at the Cernuschi Museum Paris (15th September
to 30th December 2006). By the way, art historians would tell you
that these pre-Islamic objects — and many more — survived
because Muslim conquerors of Iran did not destroy them. Click on
this link to get a brief preview:
http://www.irandokht.com/editorial/index4.php?area=pro&sectionID=9&editorialID=2143

Suggested Reading:  Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian
Painting by Oleg Grabar
. A more general art history, The Golden Age of
Persian Art 1501-1722
by Sheila Canby both available through Amazon.
And Western art is exhibited in Iran. Check this one out:

* Last summer Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art held a major
exhibit (June-October 2005) called “Modern Art Movements,”
bringing together a historic number of contemporary world
masterpieces owned by Iranian Museums.  Barbara Rose who writes
about the exhibit for “The Wall Street Journal on Line” observes:
“The unprecedented show was a huge success.”  “The first gallery”
she says ” was filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist
paintings. There was a Gauguin still life, a rare Léger from 1913
and Picasso’s synthetic cubist masterpiece, “Fenêtre Ouverte sur
la Rue de Penthièvre,” as well as his late cast bronze of a baboon
cradling her baby, which is also in the Picasso Museum in Paris.
There were circus performers by Georges Rouault as well as a
daring watercolor by the German Dadaist George Grosz. Other
European and American modern masters were on view with a special
section devoted to Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol,
David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.
Also in the collection are sculptures by Magritte, Henry Moore and
Giacometti; paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró and Georges
Braque; and three important Toulouse-Lautrecs.”

Now, check out Ms. Barbara Rose’s tone in her write up:

*”Most remarkably,” she observes “an entire gallery was devoted
to Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that proclaimed
America’s cultural primacy.”  She is even more shocked at the
Iranian Museum of Contemporary art’s “continuing to list the works
of modern Western art, including a number of prominent Jewish
artists, as part of its permanent collection, which is presumably
open to the public [can the museum be making this up?]. A more
recent, “ironic” exhibition, she adds :” is that of paintings by
the well-known Jewish painter Marc Chagall also opened in Tehran
this summer.” [2006].

*Here is what she concludes: “No one knows what will happen to
the masterpieces of modern Western art in Tehran. They are said to
be worth billions of dollars now and are too expensive to be
destroyed.”  And finally, concerning a painting of a female leg,
owned by the museum, which has not been on display, Ms. Rose
speculates: “Did some fanatic realize it is a woman’s and throw a
cloth over its offensive nudity? Is it being held for ransom to be
exchanged for a valuable Persian manuscript or an important weapon?”

* All right, we need more antidote. Let’s just visit a few of our
concluding Visual Delights, some recent exhibits of the works of
Iranian painters and art-lovers who — no doubt — enjoyed the
above exhibit tremendously (and luckily won’t have to read Ms.
Rose’s review). I have particularly enjoyed the portrays by Nemat
Lalehei
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=316 . Lalehei is an
artist from the northern city of Rasht. Be sure to double click on
each portraits to see the enlarged version. Another male artist,
and one very different in style and temperament is:  Masoud
Dashtban
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3416 . Finally,
please take a look at the works of the young photographer, Salomeh
Manouchehri
. Here too, you must enlarge the photographs to see the
subtleties of her work. Enjoy:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=313

Have a great week. I hope to be opening another window in about a week.
Best,

Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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