Iran’s most prominent poet, a two-time Nobel nominee, on the greatest epic in history, the nightmare of censorship, and why her country will eventually achieve democracy.
Behbahāni views her poetry in its historical context. She sees herself as an iconoclast, but has never severed her link with Iran’s past literature. On this same basis, far from attaching any importance, as a poet, to ‘being a woman,’ she considers any reference to it an insult. In other words, her poetry is part of Persian poetry as a whole, whether produced by men or by women. Behbahāni’s poetry is varied and, as she puts it, “multi-vocal,” because her poetry is the poetry of the “moments” of her life— whether the moments of “convoys of war martyrs on their way to the cemeteries” and “lorries carrying the bodies of executed prisoners, dripping with blood” or the moments of happiness. For Behbahāni, a good poem is one in which “today’s language, today’s events, and today’s needs” are poured into the mold of rhyme and meter.