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Iran
Maryam Ala Amjadi, born in 1984 in Tehran, is a young poet, translator and essayist. †Her first book of poems Me, I and Myself written in English, a bilingual edition (with Farsi translation) was published by Tehran Seda Publications in 2003. Ala Amjadi was the winner of the Silver Medal in the 14th†National†Persian Literature†Olympiad (2001) and was awarded Honorary Fellowship in†Creative Writing†by the International Writers Program (IWP) at†University of Iowa, U.S.A. (Fall 2008). She has also won the Second Prize (on Gender issues in Translation) in the A.K. Ramanujan National Paper Reading Competition, University of Baroda, India (January 2009). Her translation of the American poet,†Raymond Carver's poetry entitled, Fear of Arriving Early (Aknoon Publications, Tehran 2009) is now available to the Farsi reading world. A Member of the Young Scholars Club in Tehran and†World Poets Society†(W.P.S), she has also previously worked as a Persian-English News Interpreter at the†Iranian Students News Agency†(ISNA). She holds a B.A. in†English Literature†from Allameh Tabatabei University of Philosophy and Foreign Languages (2006) and has recently completed her M.A. in English Literature at University of Pune, India. Ala Amjadiís second book of poems Gypsy Bullets was recently published by Prafullata Publications (India) in January 2010. Her poems, essays and translations are available on Kritya, Muse India, Thanal Online,†Literature†Northeast, Interpoetry Journal.

Underneath
 
 
English version

Underneath

For Lubna Al-Hussein

The butterflies of my headscarf
are pilgrim worms that have always crawled up
the laddered gloom of my vocal cords.

And by the strident testimony of my heels
the life I walk is half dead on the blindness of scales
while the immature conquerors of our alien triangles
feed on the generous familiarity of our circles.

Tell me,
How many shrouds of laughter and wrath should we stitch
so the trampled body of this silence is never vertical
again?

The flowers of our drowsy dresses no longer wish to await
a mating wind that scatters motherless dreams
on the dizzy denial of an earth
that can offer equal warmth only to horizontal feet
and avenge the uneven passion of the pair that
treads on her.

Skirts unite the stupor of legs for
trousers to divide and rule.
Home, Bitter Home
 
 
English version

Home, Bitter Home

From nowhere
this house is three cigarettes away

They can always sniff it out
from the oil, the fathers donít bring
and the combats of combs that never run

Short of the sun,
the womenís hair never grow long
And their wombs
are wrinkled balloons
that have never soared for sour grapes

So with all the eggs on our faces
we have deadpan omelets for breakfast
and eat our hearts out of our mouths

Then we creep in to lull our dreamful beds
Heads that sleep around donít mind wakeful tales

In this house
the windows are doors-
that push faith to fate

and the doors are windows-
as they close on ceilings that floor walls

When owls hoot
We hiss hello to hand down dreams

Dream-dying
we gamble goodbye with goats
that bleat escape to front doors

The women draped in curtains
that sift the suns of their faces
always talk of here
that is heard as there

And these bricks have rats
that are never prey to ravens
but gnaw word by word
at our inhuman prayer
to humanize scarecrows

In this house
we hide what we seek
and try to find our loss
tip-toeing on our hands
in our tongue tied shoes

Until the telephone rings a bell
and we know that wireworms
have fished another voice into sounds

And so we saw
what we see
and the sea
see-saws
in the same boat with us

Yet we breathe in theirs
and brood on mines that explode
into minute seeds
but never hatch into hours
for the second
one of us turns their back
first fingers read the last words
in Braille:

From nowhere
this house is three cigarettes away.