Sholeh Wolpé


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

Photo by Bonnie Perkinson

Sholeh Wolpé is a poet, writer and public speaker. She was born in Iran and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. Wolpé’s work include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. She is presently working on her second play.

Her recent work includes her translation of  Sufi mystic poet Attar’s masterpiece, The Conference of the Birds, which was awarded the prestigious PEN/Heim grant and lauded as an “artful and exquisite modern translation.” According to bestselling author Reza Aslan, “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. Wolpe’s translation of this epic is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.”

About her most recent book of poems, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, Shelf Awareness Magazine writes, “A gifted Iranian-American poet beautifully explores love and the loss of love, beauty and war and the ghosts of the past.” Poet and essayist Kwame Dawes lauds it as a “collection that delights and disturbs, often in the very same poem.”

A collection of her poems in Spanish, Como Escibir Una Cancion de Amor, was published by Olifante Press in Press in June 2017.

Wolpé is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize. About her poems, The Poetry Foundation writes, “Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender.” Poet and novelist Chris Abani writes, “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.”

Wolpé’s translations of the iconic Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, Sin, is now in its fourth printing and was awarded the prestigious Lois Roth Persian Translation Award in 2010. Her co-translation of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself into Persian (with Mohsen Emadi) was commissioned by the University of Iowa’s International Program as the first ever literary translation of Whitman’s masterpiece.

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.  Her writings have been translated into eleven languages, and her work has appeared in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction, including PBS Frontline, Guernica, The Best American Poetry blog, Callaloo, and World Literature Today. She has taught poetry and literary translation at Stonecoast’s MFA program, and travels internationally as a poet and public speaker.  She is based in Los Angeles.


Sholeh Wolpé’s full list of publications: Publications