In the years since her tragic death in a car accident at age thirty-two in 1967, Forough Farrokhzad has become a poet as influential as Lorca or Akhmatova, celebrated as a feminist trailblazer of Iranian literature and as an iconoclastic figure of contemporary world literature. As Mehdi Jami writes in the Guardian, “In every culture you have cultural icons, like Shakespeare in Britain. Farrokhzad was like that for contemporary Iran, someone who formed the identity of our contemporariness.”
Thoughtfully curated and deftly translated by the poet Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., this selected poems gathers work from Farrokhzad’s whole writing life, early to late, including the entirety of her posthumous book Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season, which gives this collection its name. Readers can thoroughly treasure this expansive poet of desire and loss, of classical reinvention, of lexical variation and sonic beauty, of terrifying wisdom, hope, and grief.
Full of wonderful imagery, heart-rending avowals, and cris de coeur.
—The Hudson Review
Innocence has given way to experience. The poet commands her emotions rather than surrendering to them.
—World Socialist Web Site
In her translation, Elizabeth T. Gray Jr. sought to capture “as much of the beauty, strangeness, ferocity, and stillness of the original.” She has done so, and more, bringing the best of Farrokhzad into the light, where she is easily recognized to be as relevant and fresh today as she was sixty years ago.
—World Literature Today
In every culture you have cultural icons, like Shakespeare in Britain. Farrokhzad was like that for contemporary Iran, someone who formed the identity of our contemporariness.
—Mehdi Jami, The Guardian
Iran’s leading literary journal, Sokhan, wrote after her funeral, ‘Forough is perhaps the first female writer in Persian literature to express the emotions and romantic feelings of the feminine gender in her verse with distinctive frankness and elegance, for which reason she has inaugurated a new chapter in Persian poetry.
—The New York Times
Joy, rage, despair, transcendence—Farrokhzad’s poems, like the life from which they were often drawn, contain multitudes. In Elizabeth T. Gray’s assured translations, each poem is tightly conceived and elegantly modulated, the language precise, the voice as fresh and vivid as Farrokhzad’s own. A vital contribution to Farrokhzad’s legacy.
—Jasmin Darznik, author of The Bohemians
Elizabeth T. Gray’s new literary translations offer the unstoppable voice of world-class poet Forough Farrokhzad to English speakers and broaden the horizon for comparative readings of the poet’s work, a treasured joy unto itself.
—Niloufar Talebi, author of Self-Portrait in Bloom
Farrokhzad wrote poetry on the horizon of working for a civil society in which men’s freedom was not complete without women’s freedom, and for a life in which the soul’s freedom was not separate from the body’s—individually, socially, and culturally. Her poetry is a space that radiates aspiration and exaltation, a space ablaze with vitality, desire, and beauty.