Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A00041 - Simin Behbahani, The Lioness of Iran

Behbahani, Simin
Simin Behbahāni (Persian: سیمین بهبهانی‎‎) (June 20, 1927 – August 19, 2014) was a prominent Iranian poet, activist and translator. She was Iran's national poet and an icon of the modern Persian poetry, Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the lioness of Iran.  She was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and received many literary accolades from around the world.

Simin Behbahani, whose real name was Simin Khalili (Persian: سیمین خلیلی‎) (سيمين خليلی), was the daughter of Abbās Khalili (عباس خلیلی), poet, writer and editor of the Eghdām (Action) newspaper, and Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (فخرعظمی ارغون), poet and teacher of the French language. Abbās Khalili (1893–1971) wrote poetry in both Persian and Arabic and translated some 1100 verses of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh into Arabic. Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (1898–1966) was one of the progressive women of her time and a member of Kānun-e Nesvān-e Vatan'khāh (Association of Patriotic Women) between 1925 and 1929. In addition to her membership in Hezb-e Democrāt (Democratic Party) and Kānun-e Zanān (Women's Association), she was, for a time (1932), editor of the Āyandeh-ye Iran (Future of Iran) newspaper. She taught French at the secondary schools Nāmus, Dār ol-Mo'allemāt and No'bāvegān in Tehran.

Simin Behbahani started writing poetry at twelve and published her first poem at the age of fourteen. She used the "Char Pareh" style of Nima Yooshij and subsequently turned to ghazal.  Behbahani contributed to a historic development by adding theatrical subjects and daily events and conversations to poetry using the ghazal style of poetry. She expanded the range of the traditional Persian verse forms and produced some of the most significant works of the Persian literature in the 20th century.

Behbahani was President of The Iranian Writers' Association and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999 and 2002.

In early March 2010, Behbahani prohibited from leaving the country due to official prohibitions. As she was about to board a plane to Paris, police detained her and interrogated her "all night long". She was released but without her passport. 

Behbahani was hospitalized in Tehran on August 6, 2014. She remained in a coma from August 6 until her death August 19, 2014. She died in Tehran's Pars Hospital. Her funeral was held on August 22 in Vahdat Hall and her body was buried at Behesht-e Zahra. 

The literary works of Simin Behbahani includes the following:
  • The Broken Lute [Seh-tar-e Shekasteh, 1951]
  • Footprint [Ja-ye Pa, 1954]
  • Chandelier [Chelcheragh, 1955]
  • Marble [Marmar 1961]
  • Resurrection [Rastakhiz, 1971]
  • A Line of Speed and Fire [Khatti ze Sor'at va Atash, 1980]
  • Arzhan Plain [Dasht-e Arzhan, 1983]
  • Paper Dress [Kaghazin Jameh, 1992]
  • A Window of Freedom [Yek Daricheh Azadi, 1995]
  • Collected Poems [Tehran 2003]
  • Maybe It's the Messiah [Shayad ke Masihast, Tehran 2003] Selected Poems, translated by Ismail Salami
  • A Cup of Sin, Selected poems, translated by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa

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