EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 15 Dez 2021 | 17:00–18:30

Poetry and Politics: Co-optation and Exile in Persian Poetry

Fatemeh Shams (University of Pennsylvania/ EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 2021-22) in conversation with Ali Abdollahi (German-Iranian poet)

In the first part of this panel, Fatemeh Shams will briefly discuss her recently published book, A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option Under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2021), which is a study of poetry, power, and patronage in Iran. She then engages in a conversation with the Berlin-based Iranian poet and translator, Ali Abdollahi to discuss the notion of exile and exilic writing in contemporary Persian poetry with reference to his recently published edited collection, Kontinentaldrift: Das Persische Europa (Wunderhorn, 2021).

Ali Abdollahi has so far published several poetry collections as well as translations of Rainer Maria Rilke, Günter Grass, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertolt Brecht, Erich Fried, Franz Kafka, Heinrich Böll, Michael Krüger, Ilma Rakusa, Erich Kästner, Michael Ende, Heinrich Heine, Hermann Hesse, Fernando Pessoa and others into Persian. Abdollahi has also written and published his own poetry in Persian and German. His poems have been translated into German, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Dutch, English, Lithuanian, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Serbian and Arabic. Abdollahi has won numerous scholarships and awards from literary institutions such as the Goethe Institute in Munich and Übersetzerhaus Looren in Zürich. He has taken part in the Poesiefestival in Berlin many times and has given readings and lectures in Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich, Vienna, Cologne, Ruse (Bulgaria),Vilnius, Ahmedabad Gujarat and New Delhi. Prior to his recent dismissal from Isfahan State University, Abdollahi taught German language and literature in a number of Iranian universities. He currently serves as the Iranian moderator of the German Lyrikline poetry website where he has introduced Iranian poets to German readers and world poets to the Persian speakers. His most recent publications include Kontinentaldrift: Das Persische Europa (Wunderhorn, 2021) and his own bilingual poetry collection, Wetterumschlag (Wunderhorn, 2021).

Fatemeh Shams is a specialist in Persian literature. She earned her Ph.D in Oriental Studies from University of Oxford, Wadham College. Before joining Penn, she has taught Persian language and literature in various academic institutions including University of Oxford, University of SOAS and Courtauld Institute of Art in the United Kingdom. Her work focuses on the intersection of literature, politics and society. Fatemeh is interested in the evolution of poetry and patronage in the Persian literary tradition and the representation and transformation of this relationship in modern Iran. She has published articles and book chapters on poetry, patronage and politics in the Iranian context. Her recently published book, A Revolution in Rhyme: Poetic Co-option Under the Islamic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2021), is particularly concerned with the question of poets and patrons in the past and present Iran. In her book she demonstrates the role of state-sponsored literary institutions and the ideological state apparatus in promoting state-sponsored literature in the post-revolutionary Iran. Fatemeh is also an internationally acclaimed, award-winning poet and has so far published three collections of poetry in Persian and English. Her first collection, 88 (Berlin: Gardoon, 2012) won the Jaleh Esfahani Poetry Award in London, UK. Her third bilingual collection, When They Broke Down the Door (Washington: Mage Publisher, 2015), translated by the world-famous British literary scholar, translator and poet, Dick Davis, won Latifeh Yarshater Book Award in 2016. Her poetry and her translations have been so far featured in the World Literature Today, Michigan Quarterly Review, Life and Legends, Poetry Foundation, Jacket 2, Penn Sound and more. The upcoming Penguin Anthology of 1000 Years of Poetry by Persian Women Poets translated by Dick Davis (2021) has featured a number of her poems.
In the academic year 2021-2022, she is a EUME Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. During her Fellowship, she is working on her second book project on exile and exilic writing in Persian tradition.

This seminar will be held virtually via Zoom. Please register in advance via eume(at) to receive the login details.
Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via SoundCloud.

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