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Wake up o' sleeper
Leila Farjami's words slap hard

By Arta Fuladvand
November 26, 2001
The Iranian

Leila Farjami's poetry defies conventional wisdom. She turns her everyday objects into a gigantic collage of human misery, then forcefully stuffs them into your head and leaves you there choking on the meaning of life, shedding tears and gasping for air. After having tormented you with her logic-defying, time-warping words, you still feel like wanting to find her and apologize for being human.

If Einstein was alive -- searching for the logic behind "Unified Field of Theory" -- he would find his final answers in her poems. They defy his concepts of time, space, special and general theory of relativity; they turn them meaningless.

Why should I continue to seek knowledge after I read her poem "Khaahesham een ast" -- what knowledge, what wisdom, what anything! Beats me.

I want to send her poems to Deepak and ask him to mull them over with Rumi (symbolic) and then maybe, only maybe, together they can shed light on the 21st century questions taised by her poetry. Nahh, I continue reading her stuff. Take a trip into the battle-ridden ruins of her imagination and you shall find your answers.

Farjami gives life to the inanimate objects in her poems. Her objects start talking to you and you start listening. ("Wait a minute, was that the potato or the pumpkin who was just giving me a lesson in life?") She has you involved with her objects before you have the chance to realize she is talking crimes & misery.

I don't really read poems. I always wonder why poets had to go to such lengths and resort to such symbolism to make a point. Albeit rich and strong, Persian poetry did not appeal to my politically preoccupied mind during my youth. Even though I have personally written a poem or two, I always thought poetry was somewhat removed from the realities of this world.

Poets have smaller audiences. This is due to the complexity of the medium as opposed to, say, painting or music. To me poetry goes so deep into subjects that it misses its ordinary audience on the surface waiting for meanings and messages.

The difference with Leila Farjami is that she gracefully re-captures this audience with her work. She delivers the realities on the surface and the thin layers beneath the human drama eloquently and ever so subliminally. The reader eagerly rushes through her poems with ease as if being a spectator to a sport arena, albeit a very brutal one.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon one of Leila Farjami's poem in Iranian.com. I read it because of its title: "Moazzale Buhda"; I was curios to find its depth. I read it and I wept and wept. As I read, the words moved out of the page and rushed into my head.

They started playing with the strings of my media-crazed thoughts the saddest tunes in human drama. They became a musical ensemble, sorting my thoughts and memories with harmonic precision of musical notes. I wasn't reading. I was seeing whatever she wanted me to see. Her words thrust my thoughts towards images of human misery and the transparency of mayhem.

As I read, images appeared. They were stronger than most films I had loved. Thousands of pictures. Wait a minute, don't they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words." This was a first: the words in her poem were thousands of pictures. Her poem, in a span of seconds, brought stronger visions of our despondency than any film I had seen.

Farjami's poems warp the time-space continuum and instantly create a black hole. Read them and you are thrown right in the middle of it. Deep and un-passable, I can not escape the dense and overpowering realities in her universe of human misery.

I was stunned and thoughtless. She stole my thoughts, delved into my memories and weaved them into something else. Her words became my thoughts then became worldly images then became human experience. I was not reading. My eyes were pushing ahead as words transcended physiological changes in my state.

Undoubtedly, her poem turned into one of the most moving experiences I had ever had. As I read, I felt blood rushing into my head to help my brain cope with the experience; and then it would release itself in the form of tears from my fixated and blurry eyes.

Her words come out and slap me hard as if they to punish me -- why have I not understood them so far? they ask. Why have I not grasped the meaning of life deposited in her surroundings: the car, the lake, the girl, the bomb, the pumpkin and all? Why?

After I finished "Khaahesham een ast" I was taken with another experience. My newly developed blindness. As if I had been in an infinite sleep. I was so aware of her events. Instantly experiencing, I saw the pain and the agony, the dirt and the misery, the crime and punishment, all in a blink.

In the end, Farjami reminds us that we have fallen into a long and hibernating sleep. Sadly enough, she is right on!

After thoughts: Legend has it that Buhda, to attain complete wakefulness, cut out his eyelids and gazed at a wall for nine years. Maybe we too need to cut out the eyelids of our numbed mind. The question is not "Can we?" rather "Will we?"

Wake up o'sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. -- Bible

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