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Left to right: Ahmad Shamlou, Yadollah Royaie and Esmail Nooriala

A picture from the early days of New Wave Poetry

By Esmail Nooriala
October 24, 2000
The Iranian

Thank you for forwarding to me Mr. Kamal Noori's email. He has once again uncovered a footprint of mine in the pre-revolution cultural territory.

The picture belongs to 1344 or 1965. I was the editor of Negin (owned and published by Dr. Mahmoud Enayat). Mr. Alexander Tamraz, the man who took the picture, used to write for us. His brother, Henrik, was a champion weight lifter, and used to run the cultural events page in Negin.

I lost touch with Alexander after this picture was taken until I met him in Los Angles in 1997. He and many other old friends came to my wife, Shokooh Mirzadegi's book signing at the Nashr-e Ketab bookstore.

The picture was taken at Talar-e Iran, a gallery for modernist painters in Tehran. It was set up by Ru'in Pakbaz, Mohammad Reza Jowdat and a few others, including me and a young artist called Mir Hossein Mousavi, who became the Prime Minister after the revolution!

When, we set up Kanun-e Nevisandegan-e Iran (Writers Guild of Iran) in 1967, and I became the secretary of the new organization, I used this gallery for our monthly gatherings. It was right on the opposite side of Tehran University and our sessions were attended by many students. This forced SAVAK to close the gallery a year later. And it was re-opened, devoid of its political inclinations, in another location just before the revolution

The year 1965 saw the culmination of a modernist movement that came to be known as "mowj-e no ye she'r" (New Wave Poetry). A year later Yadollah Royaie, who was considered as the leading influence of the movement, moved away from its principals only to render a new school of poetry that was named "she'r e hajm" (he called it "Spacemantalism!"). I have written about this movement in detail in my book "Theory of Poetry".

The same year I published a periodical called "Jozve ye She'r" (Pamphlet of Poetry) that included the works of poets belonging to there new movements. Most of the poets who later became recognized as creative literary figures of the country's new generation began their works from that periodical.

Both "She'r e Mowj-e No" and "She'r e Hajm" were directly related to the poetry of Ahmad Shamlou, mostly in form and poetic imagery, if not in content. Shamlou was the only successful poet who had left the "Nimaa'i" poetry (which was related to our classical forms through its uninterrupted usage of the poetic rhythms) by elevating the Persian blank verse to the position of a serious poetic language.

To me, this picture is a potent aid of our literary memory. I can write pages about what was going on around the time and content of this picture but I do not think much of it will be of any interest to most of your readers. So, I stop here and thank you for sending me Mr. Kamal Noori's discovery of the day!

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