Kazim Ali and Mohammad Jafar Mahallati's new translation of Sohrab Sepehri's poetry, The Oasis of Now, was recently reviewed by Mira Rosenthal for The American Poetry Review. Rosenthal admits that reading poetry-in-translation is sometimes like "being at a wedding as someone's date" -- uncertain and with the potential for incredible social awkwardness. She also says, however, that a translator who makes clear their own connection and position on the poetry can mitigate that awkwardness, leaving readers free to sit back and enjoy the poetry. According to Rosenthal, Ali quickly establishes this connection in the book's Introduction. "Ali is clearly struck by the relevance of Sepehri's poetry to the current political climate in Iran, in particular the ways in which younger Iranians creatively reuse Sepehri's personal lyrics in political contexts." Although much of the original political and cultural meaning in Sepehri's poetry can be difficult to translate, Ali and Mahallati have made an effort to weave Sepehri's poetry into the world of twentieth-century American poetry. "I go along with it," writes Rosenthal, "understanding that the idea of a thing is central to the way [Sepehri's] mind seems to work." "To Ali and Mahallati's credit, the musical muscularity of the short lyrics turns up in the long poems...." Readers may start The Oasis of Now feeling like the date of a guest at this wedding, but Ali and Mahallati help them finish feeling like friends of the bride and groom. Click here to access the full review in The American Poetry Review. Visit the BOA Bookstore to purchase The Oasis of Now for yourself.
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