Chronology of Ahmad Shamlou’s Life & Work

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Chronology of Ahmad Shamlou’s Life & Work

Shamlou & Ayda

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”.

Shamlou & Ayda

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 months.

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 time.

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 by Shamlou.

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 to Iran.

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 Sholokhov.

1984- He is nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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: Sacred Words.

1994- He tours Sweden giving numerous lectures and readings.

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 diabetic problems.

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.

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