A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans, an Anthology

A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans, an Anthology

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Overview

This collection is the first published anthology of writings by Iranian immigrants and first generation Iranian Americans.


This collection is the first published anthology of writings by Iranian immigrants and first generation Iranian Americans. Wide ranging and deeply personal, these pieces explore the Iranian community's continuing struggle to understand what it means to be Iranian in America. The selections come together to present a rich, humanizing portrait of a growing community Americans tend to view negatively. Many are intimate reflections on the pain of being alienated from the language, history, and geography of one's childhood. Others grapple with the complexities of cultural and personal identity. Iranian Americans, like any other immigrant community, must face the ongoing negotiation between past and present, their native home and their adopted home. A World Between gives voice to their unique and moving stories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807614457
Publisher: Braziller, George Inc.
Publication date: 05/28/1999
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Persis M. Karim was born in the United States to an Iranian father and a French mother. She received a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami has lived in the United States since 1984. He is an assistant professor of Persian and Persian literature at New York
University.

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


namaz(*)

empty pickle jars line
the bottom of the pantry
gossiping in vinegar.
they await the alchemist's blessing
eager to join the consecrated
vessels amassed above
flush with tarragon and mint
saffron and thyme.
the cupboard is a shrine
each tea tin a reliquary
every burlap rice sack a benediction.


"try this," you murmured
and laughed as I puzzled over
the red leather bulb
a fat sunburned king
with a tiny stem crown.
it was my first pomegranate.
at ten I made chai
you let me
praised me for it
though I was always the guest
always will be.


twenty thousand
casserole afternoons
a lifetime of prayer
forever on your knees
crushing lentils into paste
drying herbs on bronze platters
pressing forehead to floor
have turned your spine into limestone
and you still start from scratch
one eye on the sun
the other on me
addasi, ash reshteh, ghormeh sabzi
I have tasted your love songs.


(*) The prayer Muslims perform five times a day.


nowruz(*)


"goldfish are cheap,
dollar a dozen.
wait'll you see the rest."
I pointed to sea horses, angel fish, porcupine puffers,
"goldfish," grandma whispered, "two of them."


the shopkeeper fetched her a pair of aces,
they danced in the bowl like ochre bullion,
flashed like canaryducats. Carassius auratus.
the kind you'd expect in a picture
by the dictionary definition.


two weeks into the new year,
her nightstand bare.
"naneh ... the goldfish?"
"they had nothing to eat," she mumbled,
frowning to keep from crying.
"no one to feed them."


(*) Nowruz, literally "new day," refers to the Iranian New Year and marks the arrival of spring. Goldfish, among other things, serve as symbols of good fortune and are traditionally found in Iranian households during New Year celebrations.


    dastet dard nakoneh(*)


grandma can't thread
a needle anymore,
says, "it's better I die"
as though it will happen
soon. until then,
I'll thread her needles.


(*) A Persian expression of thanks whose rough translation is "May your hand be free of pain."


yeki bud, yeki nabud(*)


what goes without saying?
ours is a history of silence,
an assemblage of garments
strung on a clothesline of
glyph glances and idle chatter.


my tongue, built of porcelain,
dams a decade of questions,
moots that have faded
like the cerulean marks
on your fingers and forehead.


I carry your image
in the book that you gave me,
sewn from your lips.
the story begins:
one was, one wasn't.


(*) Literally, "one was, one wasn't." It is the Persian equivalent of "once upon a time."


ta'rof(*)


            I.


she's there again,
pouring tea leaves
onto the dew-soaked lawn,
scattering rice scraps beneath
the weeping willow.
sparrows converge,
as always.


            II.


"during shortfalls, your
grandmother would fast for days,
place her portion on our plates.
each time she'd insist,
'I have eaten.'"


            III.


sure as the dawn,
her first words are, "ghaza khordi?"
"have you eaten?"
as I mumble, "I have,"
naneh turns toward the kitchen
and replies, "eat again love,
eat again."

Table of Contents

FOREWORD15
PREFACE17
INTRODUCTION21
Poems
ARASH SAEDINIA
namaz33
nowruz35
dastet dard nakoneh36
yeki bud, yeki nabud37
ta'rof38
shah bekher40
donya hamineh41
cheshmetun rowshan42
takhteh-nard44
piri bad ast45
TARA FATEMI
My Turn46
I Ain't No American Beauty Rose47
Five P.M. Express48
My Fifties Theme Birthday Party50
LALEH KHALILI
Disassociation52
Why the hell American Revolutionaries bother the hell
out of me 55
Defeated58
In Exile60
MARYAM OVISSI
Untitled62
Khorshid63
PARINAZ ELEISH
On the Way to the Caucasus (Crossing the Delijan Pass)64
The Secret Alley65
Darya Poshteh (an all-female sea resort)66
Knowing about War67
The World68
The Year of the Winds69
ZARA HOUSHMAND
I Pass70
Exile, 172
Exile, 273
Transit Lounge74
REZA SHIRAZI
Eid Nowruz in Seattle75
The Sound of Home77
Bombay Immigrant78
Learning Persian79
ALI ZARRIN
Origin80
A Word with Majesty81
Made You Mine, America82
KATAYOON ZANDVAKILI
Galloping: the original reds88
Elephants91
No. 294
untitled95
AZADEH FARAHMAND
The Untimely Traveler96
Season of Revival100
SOLMAZ SHARIF
My Father's Shoes104
ZJALEH HAJIBASHI
Morning Exercise105
PERSIS M KARIM
Hybrid108
SANAZ NIKAEIN
Exile110
SAÏDEH PAKRAVAN
Mother, Mother111
SASSAN TABATABAI
Uzumborun112
REZA ASHRAH and MICHAEL C WALKER
blindness of our depth114
Short Stories
ZJALEH HAJIBASHI
Heaven's Fruit119
FIROOZEH KASHANI-SABET
Martyrdom Street125
PERSIS M KARIM
Paris Rendez-vous139
MARIAM SALARI
Ed McMahon Is Iranian150
NIKA KHANJANI
The Eyebrow152
FARNOOSH MOSHIRI
The Bricklayer154
SHADI ZIAEI
Death Observed174
NAHID RACHLIN
Search176
RAMIN M TABIB
Tuesdays196
JAHANSHAH JAVID
Persia, Iowa206
TARA KAI
Mother Visits209
ROXANNE VARZI
The Pelican214
Essays
NASRIN RAHIMIEH
Pregnant with Sorrow231
NAZANIN SIOSHANSI
The Suffocating Sense of Injustice239
SIAMAK NAMAZI
Finding Peace in the Iranian Army245
FEREYDOUN SAFIZADEH
Children of the Revolution: Transnational Identity
among Young Iranians in Northern California255
AUTHORS' BIOGRAPHIES277

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