“Rumi’s Conversation with Shams on the Occasion of his 800th Birthday,” in The Pedestal Magazine, www.thepedestalmagazine.com, Issue 46, June-August 2008

“Rumi’s Conversation with Shams on the Occasion of his 800th Birthday,” in The Pedestal Magazine,  www.thepedestalmagazine.com, Issue 46, June-August 2008

When the old man (820 years or so, we think) looked up from the
well
Tired with the wetness of ages
The younger man (only 800 years) laughed fierce and hard
The deep belly laugh of delight
And longing satisfied…

"Rumi’s Conversation with Shams on the Occasion of his 800th Birthday,” in The Pedestal Magazine,   www.thepedestalmagazine.com, Issue 46, June-August 2008.

“No Regrets” in The New Verse News, 2007

“No Regrets” in The New Verse News, 2007

NO REGRETS

On hearing of Paul Tibbets’s death–November 1, 2007

You could say “I’ve seen it all baby”
and no one could dispute that.
At 92, you’d lived to say “I have no
regrets”– even while remembering
the blue flash of light, the mushroom cloud
you must have seen as beautiful and clean
when the plane you piloted
circled the dark island one last time…

"No Regrets" in The New Verse News, 2007

Interview: Omid Memarian Interviews Persis Karim for Interpress News Service, 2006

Omid Memarian Interviews Persis Karim for Interpress News Service, 2006

“Persis Karim, editor of the anthology “Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora” (University of Arkansas Press, 2006), suggests that literature can contribute something important, even essential, that has been absent from the conversation about Iran.”

Omid Memarian Interviews Persis Karim for Interpress News Service, 2006

Praise For: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora’

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

“Since the Iranian revolution, writing by women from both inside and outside Iran has become the most interesting writing by Iranians. Women in Iran are challenged by their society to write, and those outside are driven to it by their inner needs. The present book collects 52 poems and prose pieces by women in the American Iranian diaspora. The pieces are arranged in a loose sequence of categories that suggest the experience of exile itself. Here, on the dividing line between past and future, memory and desire underlie the experience of exile and a new becoming. Memory links the writers to childhood, foods, and relations within extended families in Iran, but desire drives them to find or forge a new identity in a new culture. Many of the contributors are published writers and poets, teachers, or artists, skilled with words in their new language, and their works are often moving. Particularly fascinating are the memories of Karim (English and comparative literature, San Jose State Univ.) and of an American woman who spent nine years of her youth in Iran. Perceptive readers will also find unsettling views of the US that will challenge complacency. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-/upper-division undergraduates, graduate students. — W. L. Hanaway, emeritus, University of Pennsylvania

“Might we present this stunning collection of voices to the U.S. government?
Might this be the perfect moment for bridges of language and sensibility— delicious humanity—to define and connect us? Cast aside the grim proclamations of power and threat!
Gratitude to Persis Karim for this healing tonic of pomegranate wisdom and pleasure.” —Naomi Shihab Nye, Poet and Author of You & Yours and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East

“In these tender and not-so-tender pages you’ll find the barely tellable story of what really happened to dreams deferred. Through the vivid, sometimes spellbinding accounts they provide, these gifted writers speak powerfully to the subject of displacement.” —Al Young, Poet Laureate of California, from the Foreword

“This is a surprising collection. . . . Persis Karim has located a community of sensitive and articulate cultural observers and mapped that explosion of creativity for us.”—Michael Beard, co-editor of Middle Eastern Literatures and author of Naguib Mahfouz: From Regional Fame to Global Recognition

“[These writings] command our attention, not only for the range of their subject matter and literary artistry, but for representing a multiplicity of voices, the newest patch in this quilt of American culture. They are allegories of our enriched nation. . . . the real thing.” —Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of Exiled Memories: Stories of Iranian Diaspora

“We have to thank Persis Karim for this wonderful book and for these powerful selections; they offer an alternative to the currently politicized and one-sided view of Iran and Iranian culture.” — Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

“Iran is a land of paradoxes. It is also undergoing a momentous and profound transformation. The delightfully diverse group of women assembled in this important and timely collection offers a panoramic view of these complex and dynamic changes. Persis Karim ought to be congratulated.” — Farzaneh Milani, author of Veils and Words: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers

 

Review: ‘Touba and the Meaning of Night’, Booklist

Touba and the Meaning of Night
by Shahrnush Parsipur
Biography by Persis Karim
Publish date: May 2006

from Booklist
First published in Iran in 1989, Parsipur’s novel carries the reader on a mystical and emotional odyssey spanning eight decades of Iranian cultural, political, and religious history. Educated by her progressive father, Touba is 12 when he dies. Her subsequent learning comes only in offhand remarks from the men in her family. Touba is intrigued by politics and her country’s struggles with British and Russian colonialism but is told that women should remain apolitical. She is drawn to Sufism but is discouraged from personal religious pursuit until her children are grown. In a resolute but never strident voice, Parsipur lets her characters–a young girl drowned by her uncle because her rape by soldiers results in pregnancy, Touba’s own daughter rendered infertile from a self-induced abortion caused by shame over her secret marriage to a servant–illuminate feminist issues both before and after the Islamic Revolution, in 1979. Replete with juxtapositions of mysticism and historical fact, Parsipur’s novel is a rewarding and enlightening encapsulation of her country’s recent past. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

 

 

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

When novelist Alice Walker appears Wednesday night at the “Enemy Nations, Emerging Voices” event in San Francisco, she’ll be participating in a movement of writers, artists, intellectuals and others urging Americans to look beyond the political epithets thrown at Iran, North Korea and other “evil” countries.

San Francisco Chronicle article, 'Let Me Tell You Where I've Been', November 16, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle article (November 26, 2006)
‘Emerging Voices’ transcend politics/Hearing top artists from ‘evil’ countries
Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer

Review: ‘Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been’, Amazon.com, August 2006

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora
Edited by Persis M. Karim
Foreword by Al Young
Publish date: May 2006

Amazon.com review
Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA), August 2006
“Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing By Women of the Iranian Diaspora” is a totally new first anthology of writing by women of the Iranian diaspora. Revealing unique outlooks in a formerly male dominated, patriarchal literary tradition, these vivid works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction give authentic artistic voice to the silence of the veil stereotype frequently perceived by the West. Over one hundred selections are presented by more than fifty authors, some famous and some unknown. Two thirds of the works are previously unpublished. The authors selected are a diverse group who represent a cross section, or a complex community of intelligent, sensitive, articulate women in a rapidly changing world. The voices of these writers have been named “Allegories of our enriched nation… the real thing,” by Zohreh T. Sullivan, author of “Exiled Memories: Stories of the Iranian Diaspora.” A list of the contributors include Tara Bahrampour, Susan Atefat-Peckham, Firoozeh Dumas, Farnoosh Moshiri, Azadeh Moaveni, and other less familiar writers such as Leyla Momeny, Gelareh Asayesh, Niloofar Kalaam, and Farnaz Fatemi. Certainly many kudos are owed to Professor Persis Karim, teacher of English and comparative literature at San Jose State University, for amassing this wondrous, stunning collection. The selections are organized by theme into six different main areas: Home Stories, For Tradition, Woman’s Duty, Axis of Evil, Beyond, and Tales Left Untold Subjects include differentiating dual and multi-cultural identities, sexuality, love, traditional expectation and its failure, politics, gender, blood and suffering, and the desperate poignancy of silence. There is so much to absorb in this collection, it is so very rich. It is certainly a fragrant beginning to enable Western to grasp the barest outlines of the complexity and courage of these women and their worlds and cultures. It is impossible to read any part of this book and come away unchanged. “But she wants to step into/the whiteness of this inferno/and search Madison/for someone in his life/with the power to change him:/daughter, father, wife./She would become that person/undress him in the daytime/stand naked in front of him./say, look at what we’ve wrapped in./See this soft scraped creamy dark thing? It/s life.” Farnaz Fatemi (p. 240)

Review: ‘Touba and the Meaning of Night’, Publishers’ Weekly, May 2006

Touba and the Meaning of Night
by Shahrnush Parsipur
Biography by Persis Karim
Publish date: May 2006

from Publishers’ Weekly
Starred Review. Eighty dramatic years in Iran—from the turn of the 20th-century to the 1979 revolution—are witnessed through Touba’s chador-covered eyes in this bold, insightful novel, Parsipur’s second to be translated into English. After her farther dies when she’s 14, Touba—smart and spiritual, but barely educated—proposes, for financial reasons, to a 52-year-old man. Miserably depressed, she divorces him a few years later, and marries a Qajar prince; it is a loving relationship, but when he takes a second wife, she divorces him, too. Alone and impoverished as the prince’s dynasty is displaced, she weaves carpets to make money, cares for her children and communes with a dead girl’s ghost that haunts her property. As Touba grows older, she seeks truth with a Sufi master, but the demands of her crumbling household intervene. Initially published in Iran in 1989, this ground-breaking novel—which juxtaposes reality and mysticism, becoming especially fantastical toward the book’s conclusion—was quickly banned by the Islamic Republic, which had imprisoned Parsipur before and did so again. Her 11 novels remain banned in Iran. Now an exile in San Francisco, Parsipur makes a stylishly original contribution to modern feminist literature. (May)
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