1925- Ahmad Shamlou (or Shamloo) was born on December
12 in Tehran to a family that was to move around
Iran because of the duties of his father who was
an army officer.
1938- Shamlou leaves high school to enroll in
the Technical College of Tehran.
1942- His father takes him to the north of Iran,
which was occupied by the Soviet Army. Shamlou
is arrested by the Red Army for his political
ideas and is sent to Rasht.
1945- Shamlou is released from jail and leaves
with his family for Azerbaijan. The separatists
arrest him and his farther for a short time. They
are sent back to Tehran. Shamlou decides to leave
school for good.
1947- First marriage. First collection of poems:
The Forgotten Songs.
1948- He writes in a literary weekly called "Sokhan".
1950- His first short story is published: "The
Woman Behind the Brass Door".
1951- Second collection of poems: Manifesto.
He shows clear inclinations toward Socialist ideology.
Shamlou serves as one of the editors of "Khandaniha".
1952- He gets a job in the Hungarian embassy
as their Cultural Advisor.
1953- His third collection of poems, Metals and
Sense, is banned and destroyed by the police.
His translations of Gold In Dirt, by Sigmund Motritz,
and the voluminous novel The Sons Of A Man Whose
Heart Was Made Of Stone, by Morio Kai, together
with all data gathered for his work on the colloquial
culture of urban Iranian life (to be known as
The Book Of Streets) are also confiscated and
destroyed. He escapes and goes into hiding.
1954- He is arrested and kept in jail for 14
1955- He is freed. His four new collections of
poems are taken and lost by a publisher. He translates
and publishes three novels by European writers.
1956- He becomes the editor-in-chief of "Bamshad"
literary magazine. He is separated from his wife
after having two sons and one daughter.
1957- His masterpiece, The Fresh Air, a collection
of poems that will influence Persian poetry profoundly,
is published. He also publishes a few studies
on classic Iranian poetry. He marries for a second
1958- His translation of Barefoot, a novel by
Zaharia Stancu, is released, establishing Shamlou's
authority as a translator.
1959- He begins publishing short stories for
children, as well as directing documentary films
and working for film studios.
1960- A new collection of his poems, The Garden
of Mirrors, is released.
1961- He suffers a bitter separation from his
second wife. He becomes editor-in-chief of "Ketab-e-Hafte",
a magazine that changes the tradition and language
of literary journalism in Iran.
1962- He meets Ayda, beginning a loving relationship
that has lasted until today. His translations
of Andre Gide and Robert Merl are published.
1964- He and Ayda are married. Two collections
of his poetry are published: Ayda in Mirror and
Moment and Eternity.
1965- A new collection of poems is released:
Ayda, Trees, Memories And The Dagger. He has a
new translation published. He also begins his
third attempt to compile The Book of Streets.
1966- Another new collection of poems is published:
Qoqnus In The Rain. His literary magazine is banned
by the Ministry Of Information.
1967- He becomes editor-in-chief of "Khushe".
His new translation of Erskine Caldwell is published.
He participates in the formation of the Union
of Iranian Writers and gives several poetry readings
at Iranian universities.
1968- He begins his study of Hafiz, the classical
grand poet of the Persian language; translates
Garcia Lorca's poems and the Song Of Solomon from
the Old Testament; organizes a week of poetry
reading for established and new Iranian poets,
which is very well received. The poems debuted
at this event appear in a voluminous book edited
1969- His weekly magazine is closed down by the
police. Of The Air And Mirrors, a selection of
older poetry, is published, together with his
collection of new poems, Odes For The Earth.
1970- New collection: Blossoming In Mist. He
directs a few documentary films for television
and publishes several short stories for children.
1971- He redoes some of his earlier translations.
His mother dies.
1972- He teaches Persian literature at Tehran
University. Several audio cassettes are released
of Shamlou reciting other classical and modern
poets' work. He obtains membership in the Iranian
Academy of Language. He publishes several new
translations and writes a few film scripts. He
travels to Paris for medical treatment.
1973- Two new collections, Abraham In Fire and
Doors And The Great China Wall, are released,
along with several new translations.
1975- Publication of his work and study of Hafiz.
1976- Travels to the United States and gives
poetry readings in many cities. He participates
in the San Francisco Poetry Festival before returning
1977- New poem: "Dagger On The Plate".
He leaves Iran in protest of the Shah's regime
and stays in the United States for a year, giving
lectures in American universities.
1978- He leaves the United States for Britain
to act as the editor-in-chief for a new publication
called "Iranshahr"; resigns after 12
issues and returns to Iran just after the advent
of the Revolution; rejoins the Union of Iranian
Writers; begins publishing a new periodical, "Ketab-e-Jom'e"
to great success. This very active year in his
life sees him publishing many poems and translations,
as well as giving numerous lectures and readings.
He is also elected to the membership of the Writer's
Union's leadership. He is at this point considered
the finest Iranian poet.
1979- Another year of intensive activity on different
fronts. The first and second volumes of The Book
of Streets go to print. He is re-elected as member
of Writer's Union leadership.
1980- Starting now, owing to the harsh political
situation in his country, he would lead a rather
secluded life that would last for the next eight
years, working with Ayda on The Book Of Streets,
as well as many other literary endeavors, including
a translation of And Quiet Flows The Don by Mikhail
1984- He is nominated for the Nobel Prize in
1988- He is invited by Interlit, the World Literary
Congress. He tours Europe giving many lectures
and readings. His complete collection of poems
is printed in Germany. He returns to Iran.
1990- He tours the United States. Human Rights
and The Fund For Free Expression present him with
their annual award. Several works are published
on his poetry and his overall literary contribution.
1991- He tours Europe again and returns to Iran
for another four years of intensive work. This
same year he wins the Freedom Of Expression Award
given by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
1992- His work appears in Armenian and English:
1994- He tours Sweden giving numerous lectures
1995- He finishes the translation of And Quiet
Flows The Don. There is a special gathering in
Toronto of Iranian writers and critics to discuss
Shamlou's contribution to Persian poetry. His
works are published in Spanish: Aurora!
1996- His physical condition deteriorates. He
undergoes several operations.
1997- His right foot is amputated due to severe
1999- He is presented with the Stig Dagerman
Award by the Swedish Foundation.
2000- Ahmad Shamlou passes away on Sunday July
23 at Iran-Mehr Hospital in Tehran due to complications
from his diabetes.
- Ahmad Shamlou has published more than seventy
books: 16 volumes of poetry; 5 anthologies of
poetry; 5 volumes including novels, short stories
& screenplays; 9 volumes of children's literature;
9 translations of poetry into Persian; 21 novels
translated into Persian; 5 collections of essays,
lectures and interviews; 6 volumes (to date) of
The Book Of Streets.
(A Short Biography)
Master Poet of Liberty
The Making of Ahmad Shamlou (in Persian, pdf, 550 kb)
Ahmad Shamlou's letter to Bahman Maghsoudlou (English)
Ahmad Shamlou's letter to Bahman Maghsoudlou (Persian)
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