Wake up o' sleeper
Leila Farjami's words slap hard
By Arta Fuladvand
November 26, 2001
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
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
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
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.