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Review: Six Vowels and Twenty Three Consonants: An Anthology of Persian Poetry from Rudaki to Langroodi, ed. Ali Alizadeh and John Kinsella

Cultural Worth, David Hart, Stride Magazine, 2012

And now a stream of poets writing in Persian from Rudaki (b.858) to Ahmad Zahedi Langroodi (b.1982). Six Vowels and Twenty-Three Consonants continues and adds to the tradition, as it seems now, of Persian language poets into English. So Rumi is here and Hafez, and then Mimi Khalvati's name jumps out from the list, with a ghazal after Hafez. At an event some years ago she taught me and others this form, and I was very glad of it.

No Persian here, she writes in English.

Recently I was praising in this space a book of translations, in varieties of close or more free ways, by John Kinsella, and here he is, knowing no Persian, working with Ali Alizadeh, whose language it is, to make a book extending this Persian-English tradition into Western culture. Kinsella's introduction on the process is a pleasure, as is the whole book. Not many women until the present time, I shall quote from the opening Mahasti Shahrokhi's (b.1956, lives now in France) Beautiful wounds, a long way from Rumi,

Come see my wounds
See my smashed skull
See the spreading fractures
See the congealed blood
See my blooded larynx
See my slashed throat
See my torn uterus

and so on, until it ends,

Despite all of this, I'm still young and alive
And despite my smashed skull I'm still beautiful