Simin Behbahani

Simin Behbahani

Simin, an Iranian poet and writer, was born on June 20, 1927 in Tehran to literary parents. His father, Abbas Khalili, was a newspaper writer and editor, and his mother, Fakhr Ozma Arghun, was a teacher, writer and newspaper editor, as well as a gifted poet. Simin earned the nickname “Lioness of Iran” for expressing her strong opposition to oppression and violence in more than 600 poems.

Before her birth, his father was temporarily exiled for activities perceived as a threat to the government. Her parents reunited two years later, but eventually divorced, and Simin stayed with her mother, a poet who encouraged her to write.

She published her first poem at age 14. Simin briefly trained as a midwife, but was expelled from the program after being falsely accused of writing a press article critical of the school. His dismissal was probably due to his association with the communist Tudeh party. Simin married shortly thereafter and took her husband’s last name, Behbahani. While raising his family, he studied law at the University of Tehran. After divorcing her first husband, she remarried (1969) and graduated in Law. However, instead of pursuing a legal career, she found work as a high school teacher.

Simin Behbahani used Nima Yushich’s “Char Pareh” style and later switched to ghazal, a free poetic style similar to the western sonnet. He contributed to the historical development of the ghazal by adding theatrical themes, everyday events and conversations to this poetic style. Simin Behbahani expanded the variety of traditional Persian verses and wrote the most important works of Persian literature of the 20th century.

She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, received the Human Rights Watch-Hellman / Hammet Fellowship in 1998, and in 1999 the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for her fight for freedom of expression in Iran.

Behbahani has ​​written prolifically throughout his life. Her first collection of verses, Setar-e shekasteh (The Broken Lute), was published in 1951. She is known for twisting classical Persian poetic forms to explore contemporary themes, often reversing the traditional structure of the Ghazal through the use of a female narrator.  This is of great importance, as he began experimenting with these forms at a time when new poetry was becoming popular with Iranian poets and the more classical forms were in decline. Starting in 1962, she also wrote texts for national radio. Following the establishment of an Islamic regime by the Iranian revolution (1979), she increasingly expressed her horror of human rights violations in her poetry and prose. It should be noted that the political and cultural issues addressed by Simin Behbahani  have never alienated the poet from her country.


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