calligraphic painting with Persian text over bright orange field by artist Golnaz Fathi

Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora

Saturday, February 12, 2022
Event Time 03:00 p.m. - 04:30 p.m. PT
Cost Free and open to the public
Location Remote access event
Contact Email


  • This program also available via live-stream and at the same link after the event.

Join us online for a remote-access Saturday afternoon (3:00 pm Pacific) reading with California poets/translators Armen Davoudian, Farnaz Fatemi, Gary Gach, Zara Houshmand, Persis Karim, Mojdeh Marashi, and Sholeh Wolpé, each contributors to the new anthology, Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora, edited by Christopher Nelson; introduced by Kaveh Bassiri (Green Linden Press, 2021).

Co-presented with the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies and Diaspora Arts Connection.

The anthology Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora features 130 poets and translators from ten countries, including Garous Abdolmalekian, Kaveh Akbar, Kazim Ali, Reza Baraheni, Kaveh Bassiri, Simin Behbahani, Mark S. Burrows, Athena Farrokhzad, Forugh Farrokhzad, Persis Karim, Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Sara Khalili, Mimi Khalvati, Esmail Khoi, Abbas Kiarostami, Fayre Makeig, Anis Mojgani, Yadollah Royai, Amir Safi, SAID, H.E. Sayeh, Roger Sedarat, Sohrab Sepehri, Ahmad Shamlu, Solmaz Sharif, Niloufar Talebi, Jean Valentine, Stephen Watts, Sholeh Wolpé, Nima Yushij, and many others.

Purchase the 364-page book here. Image, detail from cover art [untitled] by Golnaz Fathi.

  • Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora offers a profoundly satisfying journey into the poetic canon of my homeland—an anthology with an ambition, expanse, depth, and diversity that truly earns its essential tag. So many poets I was hoping would be in here are here, from contemporary icons to new luminaries, plus I got to explore several poets I had never before read. Everyone from students of poetry to masters of the form should take this ride through the soul and psyche of Iran, which endures no matter where the border, beyond whatever the boundary!

    —Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity


Zara Houshmand is an Iranian American writer whose work bridges cultural divides and includes poetry, theatre, memoir, and literary translation. Her most recent book is Moon and Sun (2020), translations of Rumi’s rubaiyat. More here

Armen Davoudian is the author of Swan Song, which won the 2020 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. His poems and translations from Persian appear in AGNI, The Sewanee Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. He grew up in Isfahan, Iran and lives in California, where he is a PhD candidate in English at Stanford University.

Award-winning poet, artist, and literary translator Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran and grew up in Trinidad and the U.K. before settling in the United States. She earned an MA in radio, television, and film from Northwestern University, as well as a master of health sciences degree from Johns Hopkins University. Wolpé is the author of the chapbook The Outsider (2018) and several collections of poetry.

Mojdeh Marashi is a designer, artist, writer, and translator. Mojdeh was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to San Francisco Bay Area in 1977. She now lives and works in Palo Alto, California where she works as the Managing Director at Blurred Whisper, an Idea and Design studio in Palo Alto, California, which Mojdeh co-founded in 2002. Mojdeh studied Art at California College of Arts (CCA) and later at San Francisco State University where she earned her Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts and a second M.A. in Creative Writing.

Gary Gach is an American author, translator, editor, teacher and poet living on Russian Hill, San Francisco. His work has been translated into several languages, and has appeared in several anthologies and numerous periodicals. He serves on the International Advisory Panel of the Buddhist Channel, a Malaysian Buddhist news website. He currently hosts Haiku Corner for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Farnaz Fatemi is a founding member of The Hive Poetry Collective, which produces podcasts and poetry-related events in Santa Cruz County. Her poems and lyric essays have recently appeared in Catamaran Literary Reader, Tahoma Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Tupelo Quarterly, SWWIM Daily, Grist Journal and several anthologies. Her book, Sister Tongue, won the 2021 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize (selected by Tracy K. Smith) and is forthcoming in Fall 2022 from Kent State University Press.

Persis Karim is a poet, editor and professor of Comparative & World Literature at San Francisco State University. Her poetry has been published in Reed Magazine, The Raven's Perch, The New York Times, The Broken Spine and other publications. She is also the director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University.


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