the Return of Poetry
On January 7, 1982, my wife Ezzat, because of her political views, was executed in Tehran by Khomeini’s firing squad. I had been living underground at the time. A few days later, I went to Mt. Alborz to commemorate her death with some of our friends. We sang the beautiful poem “Death of Nazli” in her memory and I washed my tears constantly with snow and water from a frozen creek. It was that evening at home, while sitting under a powerful light because of my failing vision, and looking at my little notebook, that it suddenly came. I wrote nine poems in one stroke which I published later under the title”Ezzat was executed”.
My first poem was published at age 13 and my first collection of poems at 17. But when I went to university I became a devoted leftist revolutionary against the Shah’s regime and stopped writing poetry. I wanted to change the world, not by words but through action. And yet, that evening, eight years after saying goodbye to poetry it returned to me against my will.
Ezzat was dead but I wanted to make her alive again, and there was nothing left for me but the creative power of poetry. I wanted to take revenge and tell her murderers that her memory will stay alive and one day they will be held accountable for their crimes before a just court. To overcome my sorrows, I had another option: destroying myself. But poetry helped me to take the opposite direction. It was the best creative power through which I could express my feelings, immortalize Ezzat and stand against injustice.
When I put down my pen, I turned around to my friend who was cooking pottage behind me and said: “Now I understand why early man painted buffalos in his cave.” And I read him one of my new poems for Ezzat, called: “Listen! I have a story”. When I finished reading, my friend said: It was Adam who wrote the first poem after hearing the murder of Abel.”
One and a half years later I fled Iran and eventually took refuge in LoS Angeles. On December 22, 1985 I was surprised by another explosion of poetry which lasted for four months. Poetry was pouring out of me day and night. I collected 111 of these poems in one volume, called: “After the Silence”. Yes, poetry untied my tongue and gave me courage to speak for those who became silenced by firing squads. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.