They say patience can turn a stone into a jewel. Hafez
No ! It didn't turn into a jewel It isn't a jewel, not at all It never will be No ! It was a stone : patience A stone through & through The split through my forehead The gash across my face The blood oozing down behind my ear Well, patience And he with his whip A woman with hair on the soles of her feet Hair sprouting from the soles of a beaten woman Have patience And he with his sharp nails That rip and slash skin to pieces And he who swallows & swallows Always he carries with him his toothbrush Because butterfly wings get stuck in his teeth Patience, hey patience And he has no hugs Has no smiles Knows nothing of dancing Is hopeless at kissing Always stashing love under the table Such a proper pretty-pretty such a true lady So sure she knows how to hold herself See how she bears patience And always she's begging : beat me ! (O Yes) And when she's been beaten : again, again ! (O Yes) Such a gamine for a pretty game ! (O Yes) And handfulls Handfulls of stones She'd throw at me Throw at you O she bears herself so well If you're beautiful she'll say : you brute ! If tall, then it's : o how short ! Strange lady A know made of patience No ! It didn't become a jewel Not at all, no way But a live tortioned knot That of a sudden snap-died Of its own high fever & feverishly died Of patience
Translated by Stephen Watts
Poem from Ziba Karbassi. Poesie / Poems published by Poesia Presente in 2011.
Ziba Karbassi was born in Tabriz, north western Iran. She has been writing poems from an early age. Her first book in Farsi was published in her early twenties. Since then she has published more than ten books, both in her mother tongue and internationally, and she is widely regarded as the leading Iranian poet of her generation. She has read poetry across Europe and America. She was chairperson of the Iranian Writers Association (in exile) from 2002 to 2004 and editor of Asar and Exiled Ink literature magazines in London. In 2009, she won the Golden Apple poetry prize in Azerbaijan. She was chair of Exiled Writers Ink in the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2014. Her poetry has been translated into more than ten languages. More than one hundred of the best critics and artists all over the world have written about her poetry. In 2012, she was chosen by Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, Birkbeck, University of London, as one of the fifteen revolutionary poets in the world. She has served as a director of PEN international relations (Iran in exile) from 2019 to the beginning of 2021. She lives in the UK.
Stephen Watts was born in 1952. His father was from Stoke-on-Trent and his mother’s family from villages high in the Italian & Swiss Alps. Since 1977 has lived mainly in the richly multilingual communities of the Whitechapel area of East London. Geographies & location (as also their negative theologies) are urgent to his life and his work. Recent books include Ancient Sunlight (Enitharmon, 2014; repr. 2020) and Republic Of Dogs/Republic Of Birds (Test Centre, 2016; Prototype, 2020) & a b/w 16mm 70-minute experimental film The Republics was made from the latter by Huw Wahl in 2019. He’s also a translator working closely with exiled poets & inter alia has co-translated Pages from the Biography of an Exile by the Iraqi poet Adnan al-Sayegh (Arc Publications, 2014) & Syrian poet Golan Haji’s A Tree Whose Name I Don’t Know (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2017). A book by the Iranian poet Ziba Karbassi awaits publication & co-translations of two other Iranian writers, Esmail Khoi & Reza Baraheni, are forthcoming from Tenement Press. His translation research was the subject of two recent exhibitions : ‘Swirl Of Words/Swirl Of Worlds’ at PEER Gallery, Hoxton, for which he edited a book of that title and ‘Explosion Of Words’ with the Swiss artist Hannes Schüpbach, which celebrated his 2,000-page Bibliography of Modern Poetry in English Translation. His own poetry has been translated into many languages, with full collections in Italian, Czech, Arabic, German & Spanish. Last year Prototype Publishing published his Journeys Across Breath. Poems 1975-2005. A second volume, including further early and later work, is planned to follow.
Photo by Lisa Kalloo
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