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Seda: Voices of Iran

Ziba Jarbassi: Collage 2

Read more of Ziba Karbassi’s work and that of other contemporary Iranian poets in Belonging: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World  

Ziba Karbassi is a rising star of Persian poetry. She was born in 1974 in Tabriz, the capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, so her first language was Azeri dialect of Turkish. She writes her poetry both in Persian and in Azeri Turkish. So far she has published eight books of poems in Persian. None of them, however, appeared in Iran, because since 1989 she lives in exile in London. Her Azeri poems do appear in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, in 2010 she won Golden Apple poetry price in that country. She was chairperson of the Iranian Writers Association (in exile) from 2002 to 2004 and one of the editor in "Exiled Writers Ink" literature magazine in London. Her poems have appeared in many languages throughout Europe and the UK and US. She is especially good at reciting her own poems and makes great impressions on listeners, who may even not understand the language. Many of her poems are translated in English by herself and Steven Watts, the two have recently numerous readings around London and elsewhere.

Collage 2

Always in my face you were looking for someone it wasn’t me

you could kill someone always it wouldn’t be me  not me at all

when I was looking at you from far-away you were nearest to

yourself  my shoulder shivered just a little so you wouldn’t see

even under the stone when I was shuddering I didn’t shudder

even when you pulled the nails from my fingers I myself was

painting them red

When you shaved my head I kept plaiting the tulips of my hair

so that in the morning they would sway in waves like the dawn

breeze & wind themselves around my waist

When you blindfolded my eyes and push-pushed me to the Hang-

Man’s Tree   with my own feet I walked toward the poker tables

so as to lose all that I had & come back & spit full into the mirror

then in my face I would look for someone who’s no longer there

My  the mirror of this house holds strange memories !

So I would wrench out my heart that always was in pain

and throw it at the mirror with its closed-up hidden wounds

What a tulip tree ! This one in the full mirror see it lung-in
its tree-breaths

The drop of rain that becomes a pearl knows about this

Knows about the feel of the poem that from its roots is in pain

in my skin and my words



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