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  • Writer's pictureBelle Kenyon

Manchester Literature Festival: Azita Ghahreman & Maura Dooley

On Monday I attended a poetry event as part of the Manchester Literature Festival, and was introduced to 2 poets completely new to me, Azita Ghahreman and Maura Dooley.

Azita Ghahreman, is one of Iran's leading poets, and has lived in Sweden since 2006. She has published five collections of poetry, her latest being Negative of a Group Photograph with Bloodaxe Books.

Manchester Library

It was Maura Dooley, a fantastic poet in her own right (I promptly got one of her books out of the library), who was commissioned to translate this book from Farsi, into English, and the two performed a series of poems from the book, both in Farsi and English.

Because I could not understand the Farsi, I listened to Azita's tone. Soft and lyrical, the combination of one language, and then the translation, was genuinely transporting.

Azita said that poetry has ben one way of writing about her difficult relationship with Iran, and a regime which is stifling to tackle head on. Therefore cryptic poetry, sidling around a number of upsetting topics, has been a form of expression for Azita.

For Maura, working on the project for 6 years, she begun to think with Azita's emotion and style and she found that she could not both work on her own collection and Azita's!

The feeling I took away from the event was a feeling of communities coming together and concluding how many similarities there are between us as humans, despite differing languages and cultures.

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