Sholeh Wolpé


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

Sholeh Wolpé Photo by Bonnie Perkinson

Sholeh Wolpé

Photo by Bonnie Perkinson

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet and writer. A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, Wolpé ’s literary work includes four collections of poetry, two 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.)  Wolpé ’s writings have been translated into eleven languages and included in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction, and featured on programs such as Selected Shorts and Public Radio International.

Wolpé has performed her poems and translations with world renowned musicians at Quincy Jones Presents series on Broad Stage, Skirball Cultural Center Series, Los Angeles Aloud, and LACMA stage, among others. She travels internationally as a poet and public speaker, and has taught poetry and literary translation at UCLA  and University of Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Wolpé is the 2018 inaugural Author in Residence at the University of California, Los Angeles where she also teaches as Visiting Associate Professor.

“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

“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 Hoffington Post

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

“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)

“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 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

“Sholeh Wolpé’s exquisite poetic voice and her superb command of the art of translation meld together in translations that exude the 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 Cetner 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

Sholeh Wolpé’s full list of publications: Publications