Zara Houshmand interviewed by Richard Bright

Richard Bright in Interalia Magazine:

Richard Bright: Can we begin with you saying something about your background?

ScreenHunter_1425 Oct. 14 18.58Zara Houshmand: I grew up as a third culture kid, Iranian-American raised in the Philippines, then later living in Iran, the UK, and the US. That suspension between cultures—both the outsider view and the bridging skills learned early—are very much part of who I am and the ideas I’m drawn too. Much of my work has to do with cross-cultural communication, not just the obvious—literary translation, bilingual theatre, writing from an Iranian view for Western audiences—but also dialogue between cultures in a broader sense, between science and Buddhism, art and technology, in a way that’s focused more on the process than any particular position. Collaborative process is another thread of this that’s woven throughout my life.

But at heart I’m a writer, in love with poetry and theatre. I studied English literature and an interest in oral literature through the Old English led me into traditional Asian theatre forms including Tibetan opera and Balinese shadow puppetry. I’m fascinated by the tension between traditional structures and improvisation, by the roots of theatre in ritual experienced directly, not just as history, and by the roots of composition in performance.

RB: In 2000, you made a commitment to translate one of Rumi’s quatrains every day. Can you say more about this?

ZH: When I first encountered the popular American translations of Rumi, I was disturbed. I didn’t recognize what I was reading, as if the entire mindset of Persian culture had been bleached out, leaving a generic, whitewashed spirituality.

More here.