Thursday, March 5, 2009

Honoring female Iranian writers

Iran has many great female literary figures (and leaders). You can read about them in Farzaneh Milani's : Veils and Words.
Pervin E'tesami (1907-1941) is a particularly noteworthy one. She emerged in a critical juncture in the history of women movement in Iran. She is noteworthy because of her classical style, yet fresh form, which stray from the modernist trends of the time. Nonetheless, modern themes of social justice resonate in her writings.

Recently, Iran's ministry of culture (and unfortunately Islamic guidance!) has been commemorating Parvin in an annual tribute to Iranian female literary figures. One of the reasons why Parvin's esteem is held high by the IRI (beside her great body of work), is that she died early, in 1941. Therefore, she did not belong to political currents that pulled Iran into the left and the right in the aftermath of the Second World War. In other words, her ideological neutrality makes her the icon of female literary work suitably fitting the IRI's objective of promoting a modern image of progressive Muslim women! (Yes! Do not be alarmed! As I have stated SEVERAL times, the IRI has made female participation in societal spheres more attractive to majority of Iranians who are strongly traditional and conservative. (unfortunately you, the Western audience only hear the stories of "liberals" like me, who have ties to the West, by culture and by education, and hence bemoan 'limitations' as perceived from their Westernized vantage point.)

En tout cas: The 3rd Annual Parvin Etesami Literary Awards are announced: 4707 works were submitted. Over 200 were selected by the jury. The final selection contained 18 works in the fields of poetry, fiction, drama, research works, and children literature."

The winners are:
Blank Verse: "In Time of Alborz" (Mehrnush Qorbanali)
Traditional Poetry: "Piano" (Maryam Jafari-Zamani)
Poetry Translation: "A Selection of Iran's Contemporary Poetry" (Fariba Gorgin)
Drama: Robert Bolt's play "A Man for All Seasons" (translated by Farzaneh Taheri)
Fiction: "Last Chapter" (Gita Garakani)
Literary Thesis: "Modernism and Postmodernism in Persian Contemporary Fiction" (Mansureh Tadayoni)
Children's Poetry: "Tinseled Shoes" (Shokuh Qasemnia) and "Oh, Bell, Oh Bell" (Afsaneh Shaban-Nejad)
Children's Fiction: "365 Stories for the Year" (Mojgan Sheikhi)
Young Adult's Poetry: "Your Star Was Lost" (Kobra Babaii) and "I Miss You" (Atusa Salehi)
Young Adult's Fiction: "Little Lady" (Soheila Alavizadeh)
Translation of Children's Books: "A life, to ..." by author Marie-Sabine Roger, translated by Nilufar Baqerzadeh Akbari
Translation of Young Adult's Books: One story by Sharon Creech translated by Keivan Obeidi Ashtiani

Perhaps the anonymity of these selected figures (at least to me) suggests that the winners are not implied in grand controversy or best known for originality in their works (but that is my speculation only as I have not read any of these works, nor do I know any of these authors--that's why ;)) . BUT, in Iran, we as a people, are used to making dents little by little ... this is an encouragement; this is a little dam that is going to gather little trickles of talent, and collectively, inevitably these women WILL create a magnificent potential to irrigate the literary land of Iran for generations to come.

In the meantime, some important female literary figures that the IRI is incapable of marginalizing!


Pedestrian said...

I didn't any of them either :-(
Must hit the bookshelves at Enghelab the next time I am in Tehran.

I know Parinoush! She is a distant relative ... lovely lady! Although I haven't read her book.

Naj said...

You know Sani'i and have not read her books?
She is GREAT!
This woman will have a bright future; and if I were into literature, I would have surely contributed to her promotion. Maybe I will get into literature!

Naj said...

Re Enghelab: Last time I was there, it was rather disappointing; I was sickened by the overflow of self-help or self-prepare manuals; quite distasteful!

Hey you have a nice bookstore there in that big t of yours! I am sure they must have Sahm-e Man!

Pedestrian said...

Iranian bookstore? In T.O? You mean Pegah? I've never been inside! :D

argh, I know ... I can handle the pollution, the dirt, even the pesky shopkeepers ... but the KONKOOR books flooding the place is really too much. But what can you do? Sometimes, even the people at Shahr-e Ketab tell you to go there because you can't find it anywhere else.

Nope, haven't read her book. I will definitely do so now that you recommend it.

Naj said...

:O not even inside Pegah?!!

girrrrl, you ARE a kharkhun ;)

they actually have a few decent books (well they did last year, but because i had returned from Enghelab with a suitcase full i didn't buy anything)

Anonymous said...

Yes, all true. And both their poetry and prose work has had more historical longevity than the male writers and poets.

During the War of Sacred Defense, 2 officials of Revolutinary Guards were discussing suitable literatyre for the front and when they got to Forough, they both agreed that there was no place for her there among the warriors.

A few day later, in ruin neas the front, they saw someone had written - using chalk - on a wall "parandeh mordaneest..."

Forugh was there at the front with the martyrs; may God's Blessing be upon her.

pen Name

Naj said...

Pen Name,

For this, I am going to forgive all of your past fundamentalist sins!

God bless you too!


thepoetryman said...

Truly a powerful collection of powerful voices. Oh were there more that were easily accessible women's voices in this world. We could use them. We have always needed them.