Cultures and people must engage via literature and the arts, not through politicians.
— Sholeh Wolpé

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, writer and literary translator. Her performances, solo or in collaboration with musicians and artists, have been hailed by audiences as mesmerizing.   
The Inaugural Author in Residence at UCLA in 2018, she is the recipient of a 2014 PEN Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize as well as artist fellowship and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia and Switzerland.
Wolpé ’s literary work includes five collections of poetry, several plays, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Her most recent publications include The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Co), Cómo escribir una canción de amor (Olifante Ediciones de Poesia, Spain), and Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths (University of Arkansas Press.) Her new play, an adaptation of The Conference of the Birds, premiered at The Ubuntu Theater in Oakland California (Nov. 30- Dec 16.)


Wolpé has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians at Quincy Jones Presents series on Broad Stage, Skirball Cultural Center Series, Los Angeles Aloud, LA County Museum of Art Ahmanson stage, Singapore Literature Festival, Brisbane Jazz Night with Ingrid James, UNSW School of Arts and Media theater, and other venues. She travels internationally as a performing poet, writer and public speaker, and has taught poetry and literary translation at UCLA and University of Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in the United States. 

She has lived in Iran, Trinidad and the UK, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, sociologist Edward Telles.

Click here for: (Full bio and list of publications)

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     (About Sholeh's work in Spanish: Reinventar la infancia
Sobre la poesía de Sholeh Wolpé



Quotes & appreciation

“Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender.”
Poetry Foundation

“A gifted Iranian-American poet beautifully explores love and the loss of love, beauty and war and the ghosts of the past.”
Shelf Awareness Magazine

“Sholeh Wolpé Transforms Church into Spiritual Nest.” 
— Theatrius

“Wolpé’s beautiful poems are at once sensual, meditative, raw in their honesty, and judicious in their fit use of language.”
—Kwame Daws, poet and critic, University of Nebraska

“In this beautiful rendering of Attar's Conference of the Birds, Sholeh Wolpe, herself a passionate poet, transports us to another time, another language & another world, while reminding us of how enduring & universal great works of imagination are, how they create spaces within which we not only acknowledge and appreciate our differences but also recognize & celebrate our shared humanity. Only a true poet could achieve such a feat.”  
Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“Attar’s grand allegory for the journey of the soul as it seeks union with the divine has influenced countless artists, poets, mystics, and believers around the world. But never before has it been rendered in English with such beauty, elegance, and precision. Wolpé’s translation of this epic is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.”
Reza Aslan, author of Zealot

“Through her translations of Iranian writers, and through four collections of her own poetry, Wolpé seeks to bridge the fierce political divide between her native Iran and her adopted Western homes—to pierce their mutual ignorance, and reveal one to the other.”
Guernica, a magazine of global arts & politics

“Sholeh Wolpé provides generous service in showing readers the different ways that poets commit to their own voices as they call out The Deadly Silencer, sounding off in a world that does not listen, indifferent to their commitment.”
The Huffington Post

“Sholeh Wolpé’s poems are political, satirical, and unflinching in the face of war, tyranny and loss. Talismanic and alchemical, they attempt to transmute experience into the magic of the imagined. But they also dare to be tender and funny lyrical moments.”
Chris Abani, novelist, Northwestern University

“In a world where cultures and religions are recklessly facing off, Sholeh Wolpé writes careful poems that cast a light on some of what we all hold in common.”
—Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003)

“I was struck by this accomplished translation, which moves the reader along from one stanza to the next in strong, compelling rhythms. I think what Sholeh Wolpé has done exceedingly well is to bring this medieval poem over into lively, contemporary English that feels absolutely right and not at all forced.”
— Edith Grossman, author of Why Translation Matters

“In Sholeh Wolpé’s version, this sly, knowing Sufi classic will surprise and delight a new generation of readers.”
Jack Miles, general editor of The Norton Anthology of World Religions

“La poesía de Sholeh Wolpé no trata de encontrar el exilio, la feminidad y la rebeldía vía los conceptos. Los ve en el espacio sin nombre del cuerpo: en los olores, los colores y las voces. Y por eso, aun muy particular, es universal.”
—Mohsen Emadi, Periódico de Poesía

“Sholeh Wolpé, a poet and artist in her own right, Iranian-born and cosmopolitan, is a daughter of the freedom made possible by poets like Farrokhzad.  Her translations are hypnotic in their beauty and force.”
—Alicia Ostriker, poet, critic,  Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets

“Wolpe’s poems are at once humorous, sad and sexy, which is to say that they are capriciously human, human even in that they dream of wings and are always threatening to take flight.”
—Tony Barnstone, poet, Whittier College

“Sholeh Wolpé's poetry proves to be rumination, prayer, song.”
—Nathalie Handal, poet, Columbia University

“Her righteous aversion to male oppression is as broad as the span from Tehran to LA, as deep as a wise woman’s heart.”
—Richard Katrovas, Poet, novelist, Western Michigan University

“Sholeh Wolpé’s poems confirm the positive reaction that I have had to her work–the irrepressible originality, the insouciant wit, the occasional stabs of pain, the fearless honesty, the instant evocation of a time and a place are all here in an enjoyable and endearing mix.”
Amin Banani, Professor Emeritus of Persian and History, UCLA

“As close to the original a reader can come in translation, and imbued with the same kind of revelation, it makes clear why Attar remained such a strong influence on Rumi. The reader travels, along with the poet’s birds, to greater spiritual insight through transcendent verse.” 
— Roger Sedarat, Queens College

"A rollicking, delving quest of a poem, an extended riff on what it means to live with art that is not shy of the mundane even as it lifts us up with images and phrases of transcendental thinking."
Fred D’Aguiar  (Poetry Foundation May 2017 Reading List)

“Wolpé offers Attar’s masterwork not as a curiosity from a bygone age, but as a text of living wisdom whose message is always timely."  
Fred McComb, Literary Hub

“I read an advanced copy of Sholeh Wolpé ’s translation of the twelfth-century Persian masterpiece The Conference of Birds. It is a beautiful work and a beautiful translation. One of Sholeh Wolpé ’s strengths as a translator is that she is also a poet with a fine ear for English and she brings her feeling for language into her translations.”
— Peter Constantine, in an interview in The Center For Fiction

“Sholeh Wolpé’s exquisite poetic voice and her superb command of the art of translation meld together in translations that exude passion, defiance, and crackling wit.”
—Nasrin Rahimieh, former director University of California, Irvine  Center for Persian Studies

“La traducción es una parte inseparable del oficio poético de Sholeh Wolpé. En inglés, Wolpé excava tres dimensiones de su vida por la traducción y profundiza en ellas: el exilio, la feminidad y el misticismo. El misticismo, que en sí es una experiencia poética, juega un papel importante en la historia del pensamiento, afrontando el monopolio de lo divino. Ilhan Berk escribió: solo los poetas tienen una infancia más larga. Es decir, Wolpé, cuando traduce un poema, traduce su infancia en lengua persa a su infancia poética en lengua inglesa. Hace la traducción de una infancia a otra, de un asombro a otro. Sin embargo, entre estos dos entornos de la subjetividad, vive el abismo. El abismo entre ‘yo’ y ‘yo’ es el mismo abismo donde reside el motor de la subjetividad poética.”
—Mohsen Emadi, poet

“Wolpé distinguishes well between the empathy of literature and ‘religious and ideological fanaticism.’   And I hope she is right for the entire world that in Iran literature is like rain.”
—Dr. James Richard Bennet, founder of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

“Iranian American poet-translator Sholeh Wolpé achieved a major coup earlier in 2017 when she brought out The Conference of the Birds, her translated poems by the 12th-century poet Farīd Ud-Dīn Attar, a revered Persian bard who was rumored to have met and inspired the young Rumi and who wrote more than 4,000 couplets for The Conference of the Birds alone.”
—Jordan Elgrably, The Markaz