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Behzad Zarrinpoor, Iranian poet and essayist, was born in 1969 in south Iran, city of Khorramshahr which was extensively ravaged during the Iran-Iraq war. In his debut book which begins with a long poem entitled Khoramshahr and the Lidless Coffins of Nobody recounting the tale of his war stricken homeland, Zarrinpoor writes ‘Those days when my hand could not reach the bell/I knocked/Now that I can reach the bell /There are no doors left’. Extensively published in the literary journals of Iran, Zarrinpoor was the recipient of the "Golden Pen" award at the Gardoon Poetry Festival and acknowledged as the Poet of the Year in 1995 even before he published his first book. A year later, Zarrinpoor caught the attention of the critics with the publication of his first book of verse May the Sun Shine from Four Directions and was lauded as a "new voice in contemporary Persian poetry" with a "distinct style of a rising poet". In a span of three months, the book sold out all copies and reassured Zarrinpoor's position as one of the most popular Iranian poets today. From a high school teacher and a journalist to a publisher, Zarrinpoor is also the founding member of many Iranian newspapers including, The Abrar Economy, Zan (Woman), Asia and Pool (Money). He is currently the editor in chief of Economy and Life monthly and also the founder and director of Aknoon publishing house in Tehran. His next book of poems Tehran, but in My Voice and Manifesto or No Manifesto, which includes series of his speeches, essays and interviews now awaits publication.

Tehran, But in My Voice
English version

Tehran, But in My Voice


Without you even the parks of this city
do not swing me back to myself
as I come and go in the quiet.
How could these two rooms bring
and take me away every day,
if you don’t sit waiting for me
on the corner of this map
that I have planned out on the wall in search of you?

Without you
Tehran is but a map.
Infinite arrows lead me to no treasure
and there is no pleasure in getting lost
on streets where I have no right to touch anyone on the shoulder
     and say please
and then forgive them for not remembering me.

Without you
Tehran does not grow, but why?


This, as they say, is Tehran
but in my voice
which turns yours from now on.

Don’t panic!

We are equally ignorant of the next line
And instead of the next line,
just look and see which word goes most with your voice.

We are equally ignorant of many things
and to fill up this text
this cup
this gun,
It is always time that we don’t have.

As you see, this is Tehran
Move before they paint the lights red!
We have got to make it to other side of the Nile,
but we are not even Moses.
We must bring out our voice
in the same way that we make our bread.

You can’t place any other words for bread and voice here.
If you wish to make bread quietly
return from this very point,
say ‘To the first line, please!’
and all lights will green up at your feet.

Otherwise search and find a way
so we could get somewhere soon,
somewhere with no whereabouts to be watchful of
and from the next street
if this is Tehran, let it be, so what?

You see, I have come here to
take out my voice
if not, my tongue
if not, then I could at least take my hand out of my pocket, no?
and wherever there is no entry for words, I will touch, touch.
Let this place be wherever it wants to be
In the name of what religion ....this...
In the name…what ...this….
That love is…what...
That love…why...

This, as you know, is Tehran
And the break in the voice is neither from the transmitter nor
     the receiver.
Please touch to turn the tune of any phrase that you doubt.
Please touch!

Behzad Zarrinpoor
Translation from Persian by Maryam Ala Amjadi