Forough Farrokhzad, 1935-1967
December 6, 2005 10:26 AM   Subscribe

"[She] loved as in our age
People already do no longer; as only
The wild soul of a poet
Is still condemned to love".
Ever since her tragic death in a car accident in 1967, Forough Farrokhzad has been drawing thousands of visitors to the Zahir-al-Doleh cemetery in Tehran. They come to lay flowers, recite poetry and light candles on the grave of the poet who has become an inspiration to women not only in Iran, but wherever women's rights are severely curtailed. If she had survived her car crash, the poet would have celebrated her seventieth birthday this year. Farrokhzad was also a film director: her documentary The House is Black is considered a masterpiece by filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami and Chris Marker and critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum. More inside.
posted by matteo (8 comments total)
Pooran Farrokhzad, sister of the late revered poet Forough Farrokhzad, writes about women and poetry and looks at how those who have been silenced by Iran's laws and male-dominated culture have managed to make their voices heard.
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on December 6, 2005

The House Is Black is an amazing film, I cannot recommend it enough, especially to aspiring film/documentary makers.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2005

Thanks for sharing these links.
posted by chunking express at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2005

Thanks for the links. Amazing woman. Related recommended reading:

Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran is a fascinating memoir. Nafisi resigned her university teaching job in 1995 due to the repressive policies instituted by the government. She invited her best (female) students to join her in her home for a study of officially banned literature.
"There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes.
posted by trip and a half at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2005

Funny, just this morning I got an e-mail from my brother asking me if I'd seen The House is Black (I'd given him the excellent Hamid Dabashi book reviewed at the Kiarostami link); my answer was that I'd been lucky enough to see it at a Lincoln Center festival of Iranian cinema some years ago, but hadn't been in the right frame of mind to appreciate it—it just seemed depressing, apart from the haunting sound of her voiceover (and I highly recommend listening to the audio files here; the first one, Tavallod-e digar 'Another birth,' is translated here if you want to follow along, but you can just listen to the mesmerizing rhythm of her voice if you prefer). I very much want to give it another chance, and I'm delighted there's a DVD, even if the film isn't presented at full length. Many thanks for this well-researched post.

I do have to gripe about this, from the first "wild soul of a poet" link:

Forough Farrokhzad, and also Marina Tsvetaeva, (with whom she is often compared), believed one could be a poet without writing a single line of poetry.

I have one word for that: balderdash.

posted by languagehat at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2005

You can buy The House is Black at Facets and here.
To be honest I didn't find the film 'staggering'. But it is worth a look for its poetic realism. You can rent it online from GreenCine
posted by Rashomon at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2005

Thanks from me too, dear matteo. I've never seen The House is Black but now it's high on my list.

Languagehat, I can see the "you can be a poet without ever writing a line" as a political as much as artistic sentiment. Think of all the women who've been denied literacy, or the freedom, or the time to write. The sensibility was there, the hunger, but not the tools or the outlet.

There are plenty of pretentious people who abuse the whole "I have a poet's soul" notion to justify their lack of attention to craft or willingness to work, but from this writer, and in this context, I believe something more genuine and heartbreaking was intended.
posted by melissa may at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2005

I know what was meant, but I still hate the saying. Why not "you can have a poet's soul without writing a line"? Writers write; poets write poetry. Dammit.

But don't mind me, I'm a grump about these things.
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on December 6, 2005

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