For the first time, the work of Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad is being brought to English-speaking readers through the perspective of a translator who is a poet in her own right, fluent in both Persian and English and intimately familiar with each culture. Sin includes the entirety of Farrokhzad’s last book, numerous selections from her fourth and most enduring book, Reborn, and selections from her earlier work and creates a collection that is true to the meaning, the intention, and the music of the original poems.
Farrokhzad was the most significant female Iranian poet of the twentieth century, as revolutionary as Russia’s Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva and America’s Plath and Sexton. She wrote with a sensuality and burgeoning political consciousness that pressed against the boundaries of what could be expressed by a woman in 1950s and 1960s Iran. She paid a high price for her art, shouldering the disapproval of society and her family, having her only child taken away, and spending time in mental institutions. Farrokhzad died in a car accident in 1967 at the age of thirty-two. Sin is a tribute to the work and life of this remarkable poet.
Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad
Recipient of the Lois Roth Persian Translation Award
“Wolpé deserves much credit for the fluidity and freshness of her translations.” —The Daily Star, Lebanon
“Poetic modernism came to Iran as late as the 1960s, when Farrokhzad (1935-67) streaked across the literary horizon. Rebellious from childhood, Farrokhzad entered young womanhood as many more were to do in the West a decade later. She insisted on her sexuality and wrote of it rapturously in her earliest poems, which immediately appeal in their celebration of lovemaking, including sexual objectification of the male. Of course, she became a scandal, one that endures to this day. A family member of Wolpé’s, when told that she was translating Farrokhzad, responded,’Why are you wasting your time on that whore?’ The answer is obvious in the poems, which become more powerfully compelling as they take up the issues of life as a woman in modern Iran, issues that are realized through feelings and predicaments with which any Western reader can sympathize. Meanwhile, the poems’ long lines and musical repetitions sweep the reader away as effectively as any American projective verse (the Whitman to Hart Crane to Ginsberg tradition) or Vicente Huidobro’s Chilean modernist classic Altazor (1931).”
“A poet of sensuous extremes, Farrokhzad at times fuses with the living natural world. …She is either feverishly alive or hopelessly dead. But part of her immediacy is that she always writes as if she were speaking—to herself, or a lover, or the reader. Perhaps to all three at once. 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. This book will be treasured by readers who crave not a clash of cultures but a connection.” — Alicia Ostriker
“In Wolpé’s fresh and vital translation, a musical and compelling English version that draws the reader along and captures a sense of the exquisitely balanced pacing of Farrokhzad’s language, and the immediacy and authenticity of her voice, the members of the Lois Roth jury found themselves experiencing Forugh’s Persian poems with new eyes.” —Excerpt from the Lois Roth judges’ award statement
“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 that mark Forugh Farrokhzad’s poetry. Capturing her alternating mood, cascading images, and rippling emotions, Wolpé’s translations make Farrokhzad’s poetry burst into life in English. Wolpé is the best imaginable guide to this gifted Iranian woman’s poetic universe. ”
—Nasrin Rahimieh, Director of Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies at UCI
“Maligned and admired in her all-too-brief life, demonized and eventually banned soon after the Islamic Revolution, Forugh Farrokhzad is a literary icon and guru in Iran today. Her poetry, like the response it elicited, is a perfect metaphor for a society in transition. Sholeh Wolpé’s selection of poems and the lush lucidity of her translation convey the quickly evolving and the richly paradoxical nature of Farrokhzad’s poetry. It is a welcome addition to the slim body of literary translations available in the U.S.”
—Farzaneh Milani, Director of Studies in Women and Gender and Professor of Persian and Women Studies at the University of Virginia
Forugh is a dynamic inventor in life and poem, risking all to create a role for women’s place, art, spirit. Her poetry has a Houdini slight-of-hand perfection of the impossible, each word poised, of raw reality and acrobatic beauty, yielding unparalleled verse. Compact, extravagantly imagistic, she left a complete corpus, but her heart-breaking early death, like that of Miguel Hernandez and Garcia Lorca to war’s brutality, has deprived the world of this genial magus. Her Persian voice survives. Sholeh Wolpé’s translations, meeting the rigor and esthetic of her compatriot, flow and carry us into rare catharsis. They resurrect Forugh.”