Full program video: Solmaz Sharif: March 7, 2018
Video highlight clips: Sharif introduces then reads "Safe House," from Look | Sharif reads "Force Visibility," from Look
A reading by celebrated poet Solmaz Sharif, in celebration of the new Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University, and its inaugural director, Persis Karim. Co-sponsored by The Poetry Center and the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies.
“My job is to agitate and make again and again alive and wild and, well, free the languages we live by.” —Solmaz Sharif
Solmaz Sharif, born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, is author of the astonishing debut collection LOOK (Graywolf Press, 2016), a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 PEN Open Book Award. In 2017, Sharif was the recipient of the 27th annual PEN Center USA Literary award in Poetry. In LOOK, she recounts some of her family’s experience with exile and immigration in the aftermath of warfare — including living under surveillance and in detention in the United States — while also pointing to the ways violence is conducted against our language. Throughout, she draws on the Department of Defense’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, the language used by the American military to define and code its objectives, policies, and actions. The Publishers Weekly starred review said: “Sharif defies power, silence, and categorization in this stunning suite. In form, content, and execution, LOOK is arguably the most noteworthy book of poetry yet about recent US-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the greater Middle East.”
According to most
definitions, I have never
been at war.
According to mine,
most of my life
Sharif’s poems and essays have appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, Witness, Volta, and others. Former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Sharif has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarships, a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an NEA fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship, among others. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. She is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.