To understand the work of Iranian poet Simin Behbahani (1927--2014) is to understand better the paradoxical nature of contemporary Iran. Indeed, if Emily Dickinson so much identified with her community that she occasionally signed her letters "Amherst," then Simin Behbahani can sign her poems "Iran." In book after book, in one deeply felt poem after another, Behbahani has painted miniature portraits of her country over the decades. She has given voice to the yearnings of the Iranian people, chronicled their hopes and disillusionments, documented with pride and precision the heroic resistance and creative subversion of her nation and herself. Hers is a poetry of immediacy and resonance, of hopes betrayed and renewed, of disillusionment and dissent. It is high art and popular art at the same time, accessible to the ordinary reader, despite its formal traditionalism, its encyclopedic breadth, and its many historical and cultural allusions, both local and global. It is a quest for beauty and elegance, for clarity and moderation through all the turbulence of war and revolution.

Video and Transcript of President Obama's 2011 Video Message in celebration of the Persian New Year, Nowruz.






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