www.farhang.org: The iconic poet honored at Farhang Foundation’s 2011 Nowruz celebration at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Sunday, March 13th
LOS ANGELES, CA, March 13, 2011 — Simin Behbahani was recognized by Farhang Foundation at the 2011 Farhang Heritage Award ceremony, which took place inside the Leo S. Bing Theater, as part of Farhang Foundation’s Nowruz (Iranian New Year) Celebration at LACMA on Sunday, March 13, 2011. The legendary poet was named the 2011 Farhang Heritage Award recipient for a lifetime of extraordinary contribution to contemporary Persian poetry inspired by a deep love of truth.
“It has been an honor to recognize Ms. Behbahani as the 2011 Farhang Heritage Award recipient,” said Dr. Hooshang Pak, Farhang Foundation trustee and Heritage Award committee chair. “She is a truly incredible poetess whose works have enriched Iranian culture and continue to be a source of inspiration for many around the world.”
While Ms. Behbahani was unable to leave Iran to accept the award in person, her pre-recorded acceptance speech was broadcast during the ceremony before a live audience. She had also written a poem entitled, “I’m So in Love”, just for this special occasion, which was recited during the award ceremony by author and award-winning journalist, Homa Sarshar in Persian, followed by its English translation by theatre artist and renowned translator, Niloufar Talebi.
“It was a tremendous pleasure to participate in an event honoring Simin Behbahani,” said Ms. Sarshar. “I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award. She is a poet, an icon, and the voice of the voiceless.”
Ms. Behbahani’s ghazals (sonnet-like poems) are considered a hallmark of modern Persian literature, due to their subject matter and innovative use of meter and everyday language. Her poetry, often inspired by the plight of those on the margins of society, touches on themes such as poverty, corruption, freedom of expression, and human rights.
She is credited with broadening the range of traditional Persian verse and with producing one of the most influential collections of works in twentieth century Persian literature. In 1997, Ms. Behbahani was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature; received a Human Rights Watch-Hellman/Hammet grant in 1998; in 1999, awarded the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for her struggles for freedom of expression; in 2006, received the Norwegian Authors’ Union Freedom of Expression Prize; in 2009, nominated as mtvU Poet Laureate; and was the recipient of the 2009 Simone De Beauvoir Prize for her commitment to women’s rights and freedom.
The Farhang Heritage Award recognizes outstanding lifetime contributions to Iranian art and culture. Past recipients have included Professor Ehsan Yarshater, for his tremendous contributions to the study of Iranian civilization and the creation of the Encyclopaedia Iranica; Professor Richard Nelson Frye, for his extraordinary contributions to the study of Iranian history and civilization; and Professor Amin Banani, who was the recipient of the Farhang Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the study of Persian language and literature.