Baktash Abtin: Complication

Borders are complicated.
Geography is complicated.
The oppressed, poor, violent Third World,
The collective suicide of whales on the coast
Is complicated.
But the drowned passports of immigrants on boats,
That is simple.
Third World, you are a victim,
Bread and death are cheap in you.
I wish instead of Mars, the telescopes had discovered you,
The wounded, sorrowful, deadly Third World!

 

Baktash Abtin, the Iranian poet, documentary filmmaker, and member of the Iranian Writers’ Association died on January 8, 2022, at the age of 47, in Sassan Hospital in Tehran due to delays in receiving medical treatment after contracting COVID-19 in Evin prison. Born Mehdi Kazemi in 1974 in Shahr-e Rey, the capital of Rey county in Tehran province, Abtin was known for short poems depicting intimate moments of everyday life through simple yet compelling imagery. His masterful depiction of the human struggle for freedom and justice was inspired by the experiences of ordinary people caught in extraordinary situations in the wake of war and refugee crises in the Middle East.

Fatemeh Shams

Fatemeh Shams is the author of two books of poetry in Persian, the first of which won the Jaleh Esfahani Award for the best young Iranian poet in 2012, and a critical monograph in English on poetry and politics, A Revolution in Rhyme (Oxford UP). When They Broke Down the Door (Mage), a collection of her poems translated by Dick Davis, won the 2016 Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Association for Iranian Studies. Her poetry has been featured in the Poetry Foundation website, PBS NewsHour, and the Penguin Book of Feminist Writing, among other venues. She is currently assistant professor of Modern Persian Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Author: Fatemeh Shams

Fatemeh Shams is the author of two books of poetry in Persian, the first of which won the Jaleh Esfahani Award for the best young Iranian poet in 2012, and a critical monograph in English on poetry and politics, A Revolution in Rhyme (Oxford UP). When They Broke Down the Door (Mage), a collection of her poems translated by Dick Davis, won the 2016 Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Association for Iranian Studies. Her poetry has been featured in the Poetry Foundation website, PBS NewsHour, and the Penguin Book of Feminist Writing, among other venues. She is currently assistant professor of Modern Persian Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.