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PEN expresses sympathy for Shamlou's death

July 26, 2000

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the 2,700 writers who are members of PEN American Center, we wish to express our deepest condolence at the death of our esteemed colleague, Ahmad Shamlou, who passed away on the evening of July 23 in his native Iran.

For more than half a century, Shamlou's unique poetry celebrated humanity, freedom and beauty, enchanting all who encountered his work. Enthralled with culture and language, and the mythic roots of both, his work was the fruit of far-reaching travels in the world of words.

"Standing on the equator," with the world and humanity on the horizon, he was always restless and curious. From a young age, Shamlou struggled internally to construct a fortress against decadence, injustice, fear and ugliness. Through his poetry, he cried out in anguish at the dashed hopes of his times, yet "never abandoned his faith in humanity." Shamlou was privileged to experience extraordinary literary acclaim; he died knowing the magic of his words would surpass his lifetime.

Shamlou's death marks a great loss for the Iranian literary community and the international world of letters. May Ahmad Shamlou's poetic legacy grant comfort to those who mourn him today, and inspiration to those who will read his work for generations to come.


Anthony Appiah
Chair, PEN Freedom-to-Write Committee

Diana Ayton-Shenker
Director, PEN Freedom-to-Write Program


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