The Lioness of Iran

Iran’s most prominent poet, a two-time Nobel nominee, on the greatest epic in history, the nightmare of censorship, and why her country will eventually achieve democracy.

Shiva Rahbaran in Guernica:

Simin_Behbahani300 Simin Behbahāni is optimistic about where Persian thought and literature are headed despite Iranian society’s many post-revolution disillusionments. She speaks of the ruinous itinerary of the “literature of censorship” and the phenomenon of self-censorship, but she believes that exceptional knowledge has been stored up given Iranian social and cultural resistance to the consequences of the 1979 revolution. This knowledge creates fertile ground for the growth of contemporary Persian literature. From this perspective, the importance of poets and writers for the survival of Iranian civil society is undeniable. Behbahāni points out that this role has been inherited today after a thousand years of attacks on Iran’s writers and thinkers.

Behbahāni views her poetry in its historical context. She sees herself as an iconoclast, but has never severed her link with Iran’s past literature. On this same basis, far from attaching any importance, as a poet, to ‘being a woman,’ she considers any reference to it an insult. In other words, her poetry is part of Persian poetry as a whole, whether produced by men or by women.

More here.