First Iranian Poet who opened up Exciting Vistas of New Persian Poetry

Among many Iranian poets who shaped up the New Persian Poetry or New Poetry (in Persian: Sher-e Know), Ali Esfandiari, aka Nima Yooshij, Parviz Natel Khanlari, Nader Naderpor, Forough Farrokhzad, Mehdi Akhavan Saless, Sohrab Sepehri, Feraydoon Moshiri, Siavosh Kasraii, Ahmad Shamloo, Hooshang Ebtehaaj, and Mohammad Reza Shaffii Kadkani are considered to be the most famous, skillful, and professional ones. Though Nima Yooshij (1896-1960) is known as the Father of New Persian Poetry, aka Nimaii Poetry or Sher-e Nimaii, according to a number of eminent and highly respected literary and poetry scholars Nader Naderpour is considered as the first Iranian poet who opened up exciting vistas of the new Persian poetry. In this article the life story and the works of Nader Naderpour (NN) are studied and discussed.

HIS LIFE: NN was born on 6 June 1929 in Tehran, Iran. His parents were both fluent in French with a deep love for art, music and history. His father’s name was Taghi Mirza who was a descendant of Reza Gholi Mirza, the oldest son of Nader Shah Afshar. The eldest of two brothers and three sisters, NN grew up under the supervisions and cares of his culturally rich parents. His dad, who died when NN was only fourteen, was a skillful painter and also a man familiar to poetry and literature. It was the dad who taught young NN the Persian literature, and the classic poetry. When he was a preschooler, NN would sit on his father’s lap and be encouraged to read the newspaper every night. His father also had NN to memorize old and modern poetry. His mother was a talented player of the string instrument of tar, and she helped NN to develop an appreciation for music.

In 1942 during the Second World War (WWII), NN entered Iran-Shahr High School of Tehran. A year later when Iran was occupied by the Allied military forces, NN like many other students of the time, got involved in the field of politics, and he firstly participated in a small nationalist party group. Later, he joined the Tudeh Party of Iran (TPI), which became the major Communist Party of the country. Like Nima, NN also published a number of poems in the Journals such as People (in Persian: Mardom), Leader (in Persian: Rahbar), and Our Iran (in Persian: Iran-e Maa), which were all supported by TPI at the time.

It is documented that by the time NN was graduated from high school in 1948, he had already left the Party. In fact, since 1946 NN was sad and unhappy over the Azerbaijan crisis, and like many other nationalist students, he was convinced that Soviet Communism could not make any provision for the independent nationalist communist movements in other countries. Subsequently, NN challenged wholeheartedly to ensure that Iran’s parliamentary elections would be open, honest, and fair. He therefore became sympathetic to the National Front Organization (in Persian: Jebheh-e Melli) and its leader, Mohammad Mosadegh, and other nationalist champions in those elections.

In 1950 NN was sent to Paris, France, to continue his education on French Language and Literature at the Sorbonne University. During his stay in Paris, he not only became a freelance writer for various publications but he also wrote for the Third Force Party (in Persian: Nirooy-e Sevoom), which Iranian ideologue and writer Khalil Maleki had established within the umbrella of the National Front Organization in Iran. After receiving his BA degree, NN returned to Tehran and started working in the private sector.

In 1960 NN arranged the first modernist Persian poetry reading in Tehran, held at the Cultural Society of Iran & America (in Persian: Anjoman-e Farhangi-e Iran-o Aamrica). Later, he worked as a consultant at the Office of Dramatic Arts of the Ministry of Arts and Culture (in Persian: Vezaarat-e Farhang-o Honar). He was also appointed as the Editor of Theater Magazine (in Persian: Majaleh-e Namayesh), and as the Editor-in-Chief of the Monthly Journal of Art and People (in Persian: Honar-o Mardom).

In 1964 NN traveled to Europe. In Rome, he continued his studies on the Italian Language and Literature. He also spent sometimes in Paris, studying French Cinema, and devoting time to his own poetry.

In 1968, NN became one of the thirty or so founding members of the first Association of Writers of Iran (in Persian: Kaanoon-e Nevisandegaan-e Iran). He was also one of its Manifesto’s signatories, along with several other famous Iranian writers and poets. When Jalal All-e Ahmad, the driving force behind the Association, died in 1969, the Association chose NN to speak on its behalf at the interment ceremony. For two consecutive years NN was elected as a member of the steering committee for the Association of Writers of Iran. Later on, in 1977, he decided not to participate in the rejuvenation of the Association due to differences of opinion.

In 1971, NN took over as the director of Contemporary Literature Department (in Persian: Gorooh-e Adab-e Emrooz) in the Iranian National Radio and Television, where he directed many programs on the life and works of contemporary literary figures. NN fled the Iranian Revolution in 1980 for France and resided there until 1987. He was elected to France’s Authors Association, and participated in several conferences and gatherings. In 1987, he moved to California, USA. During his residence in the USA, NN gave several speeches and lectures at Harvard University, Georgetown University, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. NN was considered as the first Iranian poet who opened up exciting vistas of the new Persian poetry, and he was regarded as one of the leaders of the movement for the New Poetry or Sher-e Know in Iran and among other Persian speaking nations like Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.

HIS WORKS: NN is well known for his extensive research on Iran’s contemporary poetry, and also his thorough, insightful analyses of Iranian poets (Hafez, Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Molawi Rumi, and many others). In addition, he is recognized for his perceptive commentaries on Iran’s recent history and his astute observations on Iranians’ cultural and political challenges. NN published his first poems in the 1940s and completed four collections by the 1970s. He published various collections of poems, many of them translated into English, French, German, and Italian. Here is the list of his publications:

Eyes and Hands (in Persian: Cheshm-haa-o Dast-haa): (1954)
Daughter of the Cup (in Persian: Dokhtar-e Jaam): (1955)
The Grape Poem (in Persian: Sher-e Angoor): (1958)
Collyrium of the Sun (in Persian: Sormeh-e Khorsheed): (1960)
Not Plant and Stone, but Fire (in Persian: Giaah-o Sang Nah, Aatash): (1978)
From the Sublime to the Ridiculous (in Persian: As Aasemaan taa Rissmaan): (1978)
The Last Supper (in Persian:Shaam-e Baazpaseen): (1978)
False Dawn (in Persian: Sobh-e Drooghin): (1982)
Blood and Ash (in Persian: Koon-o Khaakestar): (1989)
Earth and Time (in Persian: Zamin-o Zaman): (1996)

In the introduction to his tenth and last collection of poems, Earth and Time, NN noted that, [Poems come from “Heaven” and remain alien on “Earth”; instead of “place” they deal with “nature” and instead of “time” they deal with “history.” A poet who leaves his country and migrates to an alien land talks about his new home in terms of his original homeland. With his words he pictures the nature of his homeland, and instead of speaking of the “past” or the “future,” he links “history” with “eternity.” For an exiled poet the images of his homeland will always stay alive, but the homeland’s history, as well as its present, will be (for him) “eternity”].

The poems composed by NN are rich in imagery and deeply imbedded in the texture of Persian language. NN was an imagist, a wordsmith in one, and he ultimately was a classic poet living in a modern world, in a modern style.

NN also published a large number of scholarly and research papers on Iran’s politics, culture, history, and literature in various Print Journals and Magazines such as Iran-Shenasi, Mehregan, Sokhan, and Rahavard as well as in many different Online Jourmals.

NN was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was awarded the Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammett Grant (HHG) in 1993. HHG is mostly awarded to the writers in exile whose works are banned in their own homelands.

SAMPLES OF HIS POETRY: Here are some parts of the poems composed by NN and translated in English by Farhad Mafie, and this author (MSN):
The Winter Homily

“O, the fire that flames from inside the night
rises to dance,
but turns to stone by morning
O, the memory of the earth’s seething anger
in the days when the sky’s rage was spreading.
O, the sense of pride
O, the point where epics begin and end
O, the magnificent summit of old epics
O, the house of Ghobad!
O, the stony nest, the destiny of the phoenix
O, the land of Zal the Champion’s childhood”: Farhad Mafie (Los Angeles, 2000).
View the complete Persian Text on the comment section below

“In the midst of the battle, we understood
The words were not able and never could
Get the job done as it really should
And seize a very great raiding road”: MSN (Montreal, 2006).
The Persian verses composed by NN read as follows:
Maa dar miyaan-e mahlekeh daanestim
Kaz vajeh kaar vijeh nemi-aayad
In harbeh raa tavaan-e tahaajom nist

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