Ahmad Shamlou, Iran's most celebrated contemporary
poet, is universally acknowledged by critics, artists
and intellectuals alike, as the peer of other prominent
Born in 1925, his literary
life-span covers the last 60 years. This is a
literary life which has coincided with and influenced
the great process of restoring and reforming Persian
poetry that began with the Iranian Constitutional
Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.
Nima Yushij (1895-1958), rightfully considered
the father and the creator of modern Persian poetry,
introduced many techniques and forms that distinguish
the Modern from the Old. His disciples popularized
the new poetic forms within a country and culture
that is solidly based on a thousand-year-old classical
tradition. Ahmad Shamlou, standing tall among
the generation who adopted Nima's techniques,
constantly sought untried ways, new poetic realms.
Shamlou is prominent both as a great historical
literary figure and as a major poet. His historical
contribution to the reformation of Persian poetry
has been the subject of many books. But it is
his preeminence as a national poet that sets him
apart as Iran's proud gift to world literature.
His poetry has been translated into several languages,
however it remains a relatively undiscovered treasure
in the West.
Ahmad Shamlou's poetic vision accords with both
Western Modernist concepts and the modern transformation
of classical Persian poetry. He is a humanist
and a socially minded intellectual who has skillfully
woven personal love and affection together with
his social attitudes. He lives always with hope
and his passion for justice.
Shamlou has been a journalist, a playwright,
a translator and a broadcaster. And in each of
these worlds he has been an influential innovator
and leader for at least three generations of Iranian
intellectuals. He represents all that is finest
among Iranian intellectuals in the second half
of the 20th century.
He is now an ailing, one-legged old man living
in the seclusion of a house far from the center
of Tehran. But everybody knows that the vein of
Iranian intellectuality and liberal thinking is
pulsating in this house. You can find the recording
of his poetry, with his own voice, in almost every
house in Iranian cities. He has turned into a
myth in his life. His words have the magic of
a prophet. He does not lead by decree. He just
lives, and his life and words scatter through
the minds and hearts of generations of Iranian
humanists and liberals, giving them hope and inspiration.
It now seems no accident that he chose the pen
name "Bamdad" (meaning Morning) for
himself at an early stage of his literary life.
Ahmad Shamlou; Master
Poet of Liberty
of Ahmad Shamlou's Life and Work
The Making of Ahmad Shamlou (in Persian, pdf, 550 kb)
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