Women’s Voices in Persian Poetry
Women’s Voices in Persian Poetry
WhenSaturday, October 26, 2019, 2 PM
CategoriesLectures & Discussions
SponsorFreer and Sackler Galleries
VenueFreer Gallery of Art
Event LocationFreer, Meyer Auditorium
Related ExhibitionMy Iran: Six Women Photographers

What role have female writers played in the evolution of Persian literature? One of the earliest Persian poets was Rabe’eh, who lived over a thousand years ago, and since then, women have played a critical role in the formation of Persian poetry. In conjunction with the exhibition My Iran, we celebrate female perspectives with writer Azar Nafisi, poet Fatemeh Shams, and scholar and translator of Persian literature Dick Davis, whose new book The Mirror of My Heart offers a fascinating view on Persian poetry by women from the tenth century to the present. Chief curator Massumeh Farhad serves as moderator.

Dick Davis, a renowned scholar, poet, and translator, retired in 2012 from Ohio State University, where he was Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. His award-winning translations from Persian include Vis and Ramin and Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz. Davis has published seven collections of his own poetry. Born in Portsmouth, England, he studied at Cambridge University and later spent eight years in Iran. His most recent book, The Mirror of My Heart: A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women, was recently published by Mage.

Azar Nafisi is the celebrated author of the national bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which provided a portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. From 1997 to 2017, she was a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, where she was a professor of aesthetics, culture, and literature. Nafisi’s book on Vladimir Nabokov, That Other World, was published by Yale University Press in June 2019.

Fatemeh Shams, a specialist in Persian literature, is the author of a number of works, including Poetry and Power in Iran (2014) and A Revolution in Rhyme: Official Poets of the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2020). She earned her PhD in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford and is currently Assistant Professor of Persian Literature, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, at the University of Pennsylvania. Shams is an award-winning poet in her own right, with three published collections.

Image credit: Somayeh, Newsha Tavakolian, image courtesy of the artist/Magnum Photos.

This exhibition is supported by the Mohammad Afkhami Foundation; Contemporary Asian Art Endowment; Jahangir and Eleanor Amuzegar Endowment for Contemporary Iranian Art; Mehr Foundation; and UAS Asset Management.

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