Female Poets in the Persian Language

Joobin Bekhrad at the TLS:

Zeb-un-Nisa, Makhfi (Zebunnisa, Zebunissa); Poetess, Daughter of the great mogul Aurangseb; Dekkan 1667 – Delhi 1701. The poet Zeb-un-Nisa. Indian miniature, Mogul school, 18th century. Gouache on paper. Lahore, Zentralmuseum.

The Persian language does not recognize gender, but it is hard to deny that history has favoured male Persian-language poets over their female counterparts. Since the revival of the language in the tenth century after its suppression by the Arabs, men have dominated the corpus of Persian literature; so much so, in fact, that a lay reader or enthusiast would be justified in questioning whether Khayyam, Sa’di and Hafez, among many others, even had contemporaries of the opposite sex. While it is true that, with the exception of a handful of twentieth-century poets, female Persian-language poets can at best be said to have written verse in the shadows of men, they have indeed existed – as this revelatory new compendium vividly shows.

Translated by Dick Davis, a renowned scholar of Persian literature and a poet in his own right, The Mirror of My Heart examines the work of over eighty female Persian-language poets from the past thousand years.

more here.