Diaspora Marks 30th

San Francisco
Tehran Bureau | vitrine

Years ago, an Iranian-American friend mockingly referred to me as a ’79er. He was referring to my belonging to the group of Iranians who immigrated after the 1979 Iranian revolution, as opposed to him, who had been raised in the U.S. since the early seventies. His remark was piquing. Why define a group by a political event? Could ’79ers create an identity for ourselves independent from it? In the early years, ’79er were busy paving a path for ourselves, learning to survive in our new host countries, and I was too young to understand that one day ’79ers would not necessarily be defined for what we had escaped, but by how we had recreated ourselves. The poets in this book are ’79ers who have struggled through that path, untangling their identity questions in their work: Who are they? Where do they belong? How to live with nostalgia? How to manage their complex web of loyalties, pushing and pulling them in all directions?

Most ’79ers have lived in that ambiguous zone between longing for their past in Iran and wanting to belong in their present lives. They have strived to uphold their customs—Mehregan (Harvest festival), Norouz (New Year in the Spring)—and have inevitably adopted new ways like Thanksgiving, Oktoberfest, and Le Jour de la Bastille. In the meantime, three decades have gone by; the world has changed before their eyes, and a new generation—born outside Iran—has inherited and contended with their ’79er parents’ place of limbo, that place between longing and belonging, and lived it through their unique prism.

BELONGING features three generations of poets: those born between 1929 and 1945, 1946 and 1960, and 1961 and the present. In the first generation, we have Naderpour, Afrasiabi, Assadi, Kho’i, Nooriala and Roya’i. In the second are Farmand, Keshmiripour, Moshkani, Naficy, Ghahraman, Rashid, and Saffari. And in the third, Aghaee, Huleh, Karbassi, Moussavi, and Naanaam. The representatives of the generation born between 1929 and 1945 were by and large already established poets when they left after the revolution. The generation after that, born between 1946 and 1960, emerged just before and during the revolution, but has matured since the revolution, outside Iran. The younger generation, born after 1961, left Iran young, and its members are emerging voices.

Excerpt from the Introduction to BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World (North Atlantic Books, August 2008), edited and translated by Niloufar Talebi


The Translation Project, partnering with the San Francisco International Poetry Festival, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and Asia Society, would like to invite you to the Second Annual ‘Iranian Literary Arts Festival’ on February 5-6, 2009, featuring exciting Iranian poets Ziba Karbassi, Granaz Moussavi, Majid Naficy, Partow Nooriala, and Abbas Saffari, featured in BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World (North Atlantic Books, Aug 2008). The ‘Iranian Literary Arts Festival’ chronicles Iranian diaspora poetry on the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Read the poets’ lyrical, erotic, funny and moving poetry here.

Thursday, February 5 at 6:30 pm – Book Bay Fort Mason, (Building C, Room 165), San Francisco “30 Years of Be-Longing” – Roundtable talk about the future of diaspora literature with poets featured in BELONGING, SF poet laureate Jack Hirschman, and Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, professor of Asian American studies.

Friday, February 6 at 6:30 pm – Friends of the SF Public Library’s loft (391 Grove St. @ Gough), San Francisco Reading and film screening with poets featured in BELONGING. Reception to follow.

All events are FREE and OPEN to the public.

Advance registration is highly recommended to reserve tickets:
Feb. 5: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=f55ae7,
Feb. 6: https://secure.acceptiva.com/?cst=964772

For more information, visit: <http://www.thetranslationproject.org/events/iranian-literary-arts-festival-2009/

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