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underground Persian poetry scene

Underground poet Iraj Fereshteh introduces us to ten voices from the margins composing poetry in contemporary Iran:

I slightly deviate from the routine of your page and, instead of providing a list of my favorite Iranian poets, introduce some contemporary Iranian poets less read in North America. My main criterion for these choices is how successfully the poets’ works have created space for new voices and expressive forms in Iranian poetics. What these writers have achieved is immense in that their contributions have occurred despite censorship at home and the discomforts of exile abroad. 

I recommend reading:


Granaz Moussav as a token of thousands of women poets in Iran, who have created a formidable voice in the country’s literary scene.

Maryam Hooleh for her formalistic experiments, especially for her aggressive, impatient, fragmented flooding metaphors. Also, for the multicultural multilingual (Kurdish-Persian) fabric of her poetry.

Fateme Ekhtesari for her postmodern ghazal movement (along with other post-ghazalists): for her modernization of the aging Persio-Arabic form Ghazal, and as importantly for re-popularizing the genre among the youth and hence generating thousands of young poetry readers.

Leili Galedaran for her “action poetry” and dramatizing her feminist language poetics on stage.

Saghi Ghahraman as an example of tens of Iranian queer poets, documenting the experiences of the LGBT community and constructing a strong contemporary Persian queer poetics—contributing to a several-century-old tradition in Persian literature.

Mohammad Azarm for elevating the earlier schools of Persian language poetry to higher levels by underlining the spatial and visual aspects of language, both on paper and on stage in his “performance poetry”.     

Ali Ghanbari for his genre games, blurring the genre lines between poetry and prose, and creating new genre possibilities in Persian poetry. 

Sasan Sheibaninejad for his postmodern “collage poetry”, in which he re-mixes ancient Iranian poetry with today’s language and decorates his contemporary poetry by sampling old masters’ words.       

Ali Abdali for his digital poetry and for code-composing Persian poetry into thought-provoking multimodal forms.

Reza Pishro as a voice from the powerhouse of Iranian hip hop. And because he dropped out of primary school, had no formal education when growing up in the street alleys of homelessness and addiction, yet today his audio texts are consumed by thousands—if not millions—of youth men and women.              

Iraj Fereshteh is an underground Iranian poet composing digital and found poetry. Follow the links here and here to listen to his poetry.



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