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The Graduate Society Foundation Daneshvaran

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A Message from Dr. Karimi Hakak on “Azmoun-e-Bargozidegy”

In the past centuries, many Jewish [Iranian] poets aimed at describing the Jewish religion in a manner that would bring harmony between the Jews and Muslims. In the recent times too, the Iranian Jewish poets, side by side with other Iranian poets have participated in the social and political struggles of the Iranian people and advocated concepts of liberty and development, and the rule of law and democracy.  These days, within Iranian expatriates, by and by, and here and there, the Jewish Iranian poets find their own voice, and in their poems, insist on principals that bring forth a new honesty and guilelessness.  As if the contemporary Jewish Iranian poets are telling their non-Jewish countrymen, “This is how I see the world. This is how I think, and I want to talk to you from here, from my thoughts and from my perspective. Come, you who speak my language, and answer me. We may reach a united goal, or not. But at least let’s respect each other’s word.” I have seen this specific quality in Jahangir Sedaghatfar’s word more than any other Jewish poet’s and in his “Azmoun-e-Bargozidegy” [the Trial of the Chosen] more than any other of his work.

In “The Trial of the Chosen”, as seen in the title, the poems are centered on Jewish historical mythology passing through numerous phases from the start of Creation up to the present times. The poems involve “The Book of Creation”, “The Book of Exodus”, “The Ten Commandments”, “The daughters of Zion”, “Zionism”, “Crystalnacht”, and “Holocaust.” He talks of the reactions of today’s intellectuals toward the issues of the Promised Land and the State of Israel. On all these concentrated concepts, you can join your voice with that of the poet, or you can challenge him in your own poems. But you cannot ignore this new word in Persian poetry and walk away in indifference. It is in the palpitating heart of this poetry that you can find what it means to be a Jewish Iranian today. These are poems that you have to think about, and you have to respond to. Your response can be sympathy and agreement, or disagreement and discourse. And I have no doubt that “The Trial of the Chosen” will invoke both these responses, and maybe more unpredictable modes of response.

The poetic form in this collection of poems is closely connected with the poet’s ethnic identity. For example, in the first two poems “The Trial of the Chosen” and “The Covenant”, the technique of talking to God face to face pioneers a new mode of composing that is reminiscent of discourses of Noah and Abraham with Jehovah in the Old Testament. The form is different from the Persian poetic tradition where talking to God is mostly recorded in the format of “Monajats.”. These two poems are emotionally charged and portray the poet as reprimanding his God. Some of the poems that follow reflect the need of the poet, and possibly the need of his fellow-believers to establish a dialogue with their other countrymen. “Kooch” [Immigration] and “Aye Ham-Tabar” [O’, My Kin] can be categorized as such. In many poems of this collection, the rise and fall in the form closely reflects the moments of rise and fall in the history of the Jewish people. In each line and in each image you see this consistency between form and content. As if the poetry and the tradition, hand in hand, rise out of the pages of history, to stand full-height in front of the reader, to tell of their historical pilgrimage and unbearable trials; but not with a bowed head, but with pride, like what we see in “Ressidan” [Arriving].

In one word, “Azmoun-e-Bargozidegy” is a welcome work that makes a significant contribution to the poetry of Iranian expatriates and is one of the last words in Persian poetry.  In this collection, you can see the “form” of Shamloo and Akhavan’s poetry searching the tales of Jewish long history of pain and torture in the back allies of Oodlajan. Here you can see an architect, staring into magnificent arches remained from his forefathers and contemplating restoration. More importantly, in this collection, you can hear a man, whose voice breaks when talking of the “night of broken glass,” reviving the memory of  taps  on glass that broke a nation.

Welcome to his anger and uproar. Welcome to his demand for justice and to his broken voice.

Ahmad Karimi Hakak

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