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All posts by Kaveh Bassiri

Modern Iranian Poetry in Translation

Classical Persian poetry has held an important place in English-language literature: Khayyam is a central figure of the Victorian era; Rumi remains a best-selling poet in America; and Hafez has been one of the most frequently translated poets. But modern Persian poetry is absent from contemporary surveys. No modern Persian writer appears in the “Norton Anthology of World Literature” or in the “Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English.”

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Grammar of Touch

Could we walk into a dark gallery and by feeling objects on a wall encounter something akin to a story or a narrative? Can we adapt a symphony or a short story for the somatic perception, the way we adapt a novel to a film?

Image from The Canticle of the Birds

The Gathering of The Conference of the Birds

* Kaveh Bassiri *

In recent decades, Farid ud-Din Attar’s 12th-century Persian masterpiece, Manṭeq al-ṭayr, has been the source for three new and revised translations, three illustrated adaptations (two for children), two expensive art books, and a number of theater and film adaptations. These translations and adaptations point to the rising importance of Attar’s poem in the English language. They are in conversation with Attar’s poem, bringing fresh and multifarious interpretations while building new homes for it in English.

Crystal Bridges Museum logo

Crystal Bridges to Where?

* Kaveh Bassiri *

I looked forward to “State of the Art,” which opened on September 13, 2014 as the Crystal Bridges Museum’s first exhibition not based on its permanent collection. Such exhibit should tell us about the museum’s aspirations. Curators Don Bacigalupi and Chad Alligood traveled to about 1,000 artist studios in 170 cities from 44 states, and they selected 227 works made since 2011 from 102 artists, half of them art educators. Their vision in the catalog says, “What we are attempting here is to rethink the shape of contemporary art in this country.”

Picture of Ghanoonparvar lecturing

A Conversation with Ghanoonparvar

* Kaveh Bassiri *

Perhaps no one has been more responsible for introducing modern Persian prose to Americans than Mohammad Ghanoonparvar. Everyone who teaches modern Persian literature or reads Persian novels in English translation is indebted to his work as a translator, scholar, and teacher. Ghanoonparvar and his students have produced a significant portion of modern Persian literature in English. He recently retired from University of Texas at Austin and is now Professor Emeritus. In celebration of his long service to Iranian literature, I took this opportunity to ask him some questions.