700 Poetic Points
by Dr. Nader F. Nowparast

"Hey Mullah... It is none of your business, if I am sinful
Or I drink wine, and love a girl who is beautiful."

This is an English version of a collection of 700 quatrains originally written in Farsi (Persian). They are written by an Iranian psychologist and mostly for Iranians, but the author has thoughtfully provided extensive footnotes explaining Islamic and Iranian cultural and religious references. He has chosen the traditional “Rubaiyat” form of two joined poetic couplets making four lines with a typical rhyme scheme and meter of AABA. The author has chosen to make direct English rhyming translations of only around fifty or so, deciding that more such translations would alter the original meaning too much. His is a unique viewpoint. Educated in the United States during the late 1950s through most of the 60s, he returned to Iran in 1970 until the 1979 Islamic revolution, when he returned to America. The poems range from those written at age seventeen until his seventies.

A deeply felt skepticism of Iranian religious figures is prominent, the poet very early targeting the “Mullahs, Sheikhs, and Akoundhs.” He calls them backward, barbaric, and corrupt, “Arab-izers” who have invaded the culture and people of Iran. His early contempt seems to foreshadow the revolution and subsequent rise of Khomeini to power in 1979. Other early poems address affairs of the heart. He also describes the vagaries of human nature, the peculiarities of ex-patriate Iranians, and the cause of Iranian freedom. He does exhibit a love of his country; his hard-hitting descriptions of the rise of drug addiction and prostitution in post-revolution Iran providing the impetus for many heart-felt poems. These are courageous and dangerous poems, especially if read in contemporary Iran. They help bring poetry back into the realm of the political and relevant.

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