Seminar on Iranian feminist poet Forugh Farrokhzad

Nicol 222, Beirut campus

This seminar, entitled "Of the Sins of Forugh Farrokhzad," is organized by the Graduate Program in Comparative Literature at LAU’s Department of Humanities. It will be given by Dr. Homa Katouzian from the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford.

Forugh Farrokhzād (1935–1967) was an Iranian poet and film director. She is arguably Iran’s most influential female poet of the twentieth century. She was a controversial modernist poet and an iconoclast. At age 16 she was married and a year later, she bore her only child (subject of A Poem for You). Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; her husband won custody of the child. Following that, she published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955. Farrokhzad, a female divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. In 1958 she spent nine months in Europe and met filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film titled The House is Black won several international awards. During the 12 days of shooting, she became attached to Hossein Mansouri, the child of two lepers. She adopted the boy and brought him to live at her mother’s house. In 1963 she published Another Birth. Her poetry was now mature and sophisticated, and a profound change from previous modern Iranian poetic conventions. In 1967, Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age 32. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be the best-structured modern poem in Persian. Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade in her homeland after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Farrokhzad was a contemporary of the Iraqi poet Nazik Al-Malaika (1922–2007). Both had similar concerns in regard to women’s rights in their respective societies.