Forough Farrokhzad (Persian: فروغ فرخزاد; December 29, 1934 – February 13, 1967) was an influential Iranian poet and film director. She was a controversial modernist poet and an iconoclast, writing from a female point of view.
December 29, 1934|
February 13, 1967 (aged 32)|
|Resting place||(buried Zahir o-dowleh cemetery, Darband, Shemiran, Tehran)|
|Spouse||Parviz Shapour (divorced)|
Forough (also spelled Forugh) was born in Tehran in 1935, to career military officer Colonel Mohammad Bagher Farrokhzad (originally from Tafresh city) and his wife Touran Vaziri-Tabar. The third of seven children (Amir, Massoud, Mehrdad, Fereydoun, Pooran, Gloria), she attended school until the ninth grade, then was taught painting and sewing at a girls' school for the manual arts. At the age of 16 she was married to satirist Parviz Shapour. She continued her education with painting and sewing classes, and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. Her only child, a son named Kamyar Shapour (subject of A Poem for You), was born a year later. Within two years, in 1954, the couple divorced and Parviz won custody of their son. Farrokhzad moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, The Captive, in 1955.
Farrokhzad, a divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. She spent nine months in Europe during 1958. After returning to Iran, in search of a job she met filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently, and with whom she had a loving mutual relationship. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion, before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film, titled The House is Black, is considered to be an essential part of the Iranian New Wave. During the 12 days of shooting, she became attached to Hossein Mansouri, the child of two lepers. She adopted the boy and brought him to live at her mother's house.
She published Another Birth in 1964. Her poetry at that time varied significantly from previous Iranian poetic conventions.
Farrokhzad died in a car accident on February 13, 1967, at the age of 32. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her Jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be one of the best-structured modern poems in Persian.
Farrokhzad's poetry was banned for more than a decade after the Islamic Revolution. A brief literary biography of Forough, Michael Hillmann's A lonely woman: Forough Farrokhzad and her poetry, was published in 1987. Farzaneh Milani's work Veils and words: the emerging voices of Iranian women writers (1992) included a chapter about her. Nasser Saffarian has directed three documentaries about her life: The Mirror of the Soul (2000), The Green Cold (2003), and Summit of the Wave (2004).
In February 2017, on the occasion of 50 years since Farrokhzad's death, the 94-year-old Golestan broke his silence about his relationship with her, speaking to Saeed Kamali Dehghan of The Guardian. “I rue all the years she isn’t here, of course, that’s obvious,” he said. “We were very close, but I can’t measure how much I had feelings for her. How can I? In kilos? In metres?”
Farrokhzad is now widely regarded as a famous Iranian poet and an advocate for women’s liberation and independence. She wrote during a time when Iranian women were facing extensive discrimination and prejudice. Many of her works are rich in feminist related aspects. For example, in her poem “Woman,” Farrokhzad directly presents and critiques the challenges and difficulties that women struggle with in unequal societies. In this poem, she points to the different ways that women are judged, not only for one’s physical appearance but even one’s soul. In this way, Farrokhzad speaks the challenges that women have faced throughout time and in most of the cultures of the world that viewed as the weaker gender.
The poem “Conquest of The Garden” emphasizes the role of women within a restricted society and presents the thoughts and emotions of an Iranian woman who asserts her own selfhood, subjectivity, and agency. Farrokhzad`s poetry became controversial for its bold, female voice and its harsh criticism of the position of women in Iranian society.
This poem is a popular love poem in the modern Iranian literature among both female and male readers. The poem's assertion of female subjectivity is transgressive both for pre- and post-revolutionary Iran because it boldly presents the thoughts and emotions of the female speaker.
The poem “Conquest of The Garden” begins with an indirect reference to one of the most well known stories in Iran and throughout the Middle East: the story of Majnun and Layli and its walled garden. In this story, two great lovers separated by the wall come together when the male lover Majnun (literally: lunatic or crazy in love) jumps over the wall to find his beloved Layli. Farrokhzad gives voice to the female lover, gives her subjectivity and agency equal to the male: “you and I”. This is a transgressive shift away from the woman as the object of desire. In Farrokhzad's poem, it is the Iranian woman who speaks.
Everybody knows that you and I,
looked through the oblique crack of the wall-
and saw The Garden.
“Conquest of The Garden” follows its reference to the story of Majnun and Layli with a stanza that points even more explicitly to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, here again giving voice to the female speaker while also affirming the equality of station with both male and female: “you and I”.
Everybody knows that you and I,
reached for the trembling branch of The Tree-
and picked the apple.
Everybody knows that you and I, In the prairies and the plains- reached to the glittering roots- of Truth.