List of Contributors

Mohammad Abolfazli was born in Iran and is a renowned expert in Nutrition Science. He completed his Masters degree at California State University Hayward, and his Ph.D. education from Westbrook University. He is a former athlete and model (for companies like Levi’s) and currently hosts several popular TV programs (in Persian) on natural nutri- tion and healthy lifestyle. He lives in Northern California with his wife and family.

Mehdi Afshar is a writer and translator from Tehran.

Negar Ahkami is an Iranian-American painter based in New York. She has exhibited her work in the US and abroad. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times and ArtNews, and is included in the collections of The New Britain Museum of American Art, Depaul University Art Museum, and the Farjam Collection in Dubai.

Fariba Amini is a human rights activist and an independent journalist who has written widely on Iran in various publications and online websites, including the Guardian. Her articles have been translated into Persian and published in Iran. She is the publisher of the book Letters from Ahmad Abad. She has recently profiled 12 accomplished Iranian Americans in a book called Faces of Successful Iranian Americans published by the US Department of State.

Fahimeh Amiri studied as a child under the tutelage of Hussein Behzad, a prominent miniaturist, and attended the High School of Fine Arts in Tehran and the School of The Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston. She has illustrated children’s books and her work has been exhibited in international art expos, and the National Art’s Club in New York. She is a member of the National Woman’s Association of Artists. Visit her at:

Ryszard Antolak is a writer and teacher specializing in Iranian and East European Literature and History. He lives in the Central belt of Scotland.

Brian H. Appleton is author of Tales From the Zirzameen (2008) and Shamshone; Sun of Assyria (2012). He writes for Persian Heritage Magazine, Iranian Times, Zan Magazine, Payvand News, and Payam Javan as well as TV appearances and events pertaining to Persian culture. Visit him at:

Deniz Azime Aral is from Istanbul, Turkey. She holds a BA in graphic design and an AAS in marketing communications. Deniz has worked in journalism, education, art and non-profit international institutions. She was the assistant to the New York Times’ Istanbul Bureau Chief, and the founding director of the Museum of Innocence, Istanbul.

Azin Arefi was born in Iran and moved to the United States as a child. She holds English and creative writing degrees from UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Azin’s stories and poems predominantly navigate the Persian culture. She teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at De Anza College in Cupertino and at San Jose City College. She is at work on her first novel. Contact her at:

Iason Athanasiadis is a Greek writer, photographer and documentary filmmaker who lived in Iran between 2004 and 2007, and returned several times before being impris- oned for three weeks by the Iranian government during the post-election unrest of 2009. Athanasiadis earned degrees in Arabic and Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University (BA), and Persian and Contemporary Iranian Studies at Tehran’s School of International Studies (MA), and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard. Currently based be- tween Istanbul, Kabul and Tripoli, he is eternally grateful to Iran for the wonderful truths it taught him. Visit him at:

Farid al-Din ‘Attar is a twelfth century Persian poet born in the same town as ‘Omar Khayyam, Nishabur in the province of Khorasan. He studied at a theological school in Mashhad, traveled widely in the Islamic World and India and settled back home, where he ran a pharmacy. His most noted work is the mystical poem, Conference of the Birds.

Jeff Baron is a writer and editor living in Arlington, VA. He was a reporter for the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, worked as an editor and writer for The Washington Post, the Associated Press, as well as other newspapers.

Afarin Bellisario was born and raised in Tehran. She moved to the United States in 1974. She has a doctorate from MIT, and is currently a technology licenser officer at MIT. She lives in Boston, MA, with her husband. Visit her blog:

Laurie Blum attended the New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture and the Philadelphia College of Art. Her work of Iran was exhibited at the United Nations, and at the Tomb Shrine of Hafiz, sponsored by the Shiraz Cultural Institute. She is at work on a book, Language of the Birds—It Is All the Mirror of God. Visit her at:

Joel K. Bourne, Jr. is an award-winning environmental journalist whose work has ap- peared in National Geographic, Audubon, Science, Outside, National Geographic Traveler, and many other publications. He is a former senior editor and currently a contributing writer for National Geographic magazine.

Dominic Parviz Brookshaw son of an Iranian mother and an English father, was born in Europe and raised in Britain. He holds a DPhil in medieval Persian poetry from Oxford. He has taught at the University of Oxford, McGill University, and the University of Manchester. He is now Assistant Professor of comparative literature and Persian literature at Stanford University. Contact him at:

Richard Francis Burton (March 19, 1821 – Oct. 20, 1890) was an English explorer, linguist, author, and soldier. In addition to translating “The Golestan of Sa’di,” he was an early translator of Arabian Nights.

Roger Cohen was Foreign Editor of the The New York Times from 2001 to 2004. He has written a column for The Times-owned International Herald Tribune since 2004, first for the news pages and then, since 2007, for the Op-Ed page. In 2009 he was named a columnist of The New York Times. His books include Soldiers and Slaves: American POWs Trapped by the Nazis’ Final Gamble (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005). He is at work on a family memoir for Knopf, “The Girl from Human Street.”

Afkham Darbandi was born in Tehran, where she trained as a nurse and then as a translator. She and Dick Davis were married in 1974; they translated The Conference of the Birds in the early 1980’s.

Jasmin Darznik is the author of New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Life. She has contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times and is a professor of English and creative writing at Washington and Lee University.

Dick Davis retired in 2012, from his position as Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University. He has published numerous translations from Persian, scholarly works, and books of his own poetry.

Taha Ebrahimi received her M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh where she also taught writing for three years. Originally from Seattle, Washington, she currently lives in New York City. Visit her at:

Laura Ender helped edit many of the pieces in this anthology. She holds an MFA in fiction from Eastern Washington University, where she served as an assistant managing editor for Willow Springs. She contributes weekly to Bark ( and writes a food blog ( Her fiction has appeared in Iconoclast and Tomfoolery Review. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Reese Erlich is an investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, and Peabody award winning broadcast journalist who reports regularly for Marketplace Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, and CBS Radio. He is the author of four books, including Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire. Visit him at:

Judith Ernst received her BA from Stanford. She has created two illustrated books, The Golden Goose King (1993) and Song of Songs (2003.) Her article, “The Problem of Islamic Art” appeared in Muslim Networks: From Hajj to Hip Hop (UNC Press, 2005). Presently, her artistic medium of choice is ceramics. Visit her at:

Barbara Ertter is curator of Western North American Flora at UC-Berkeley’s herbaria. She has been to Iran three times as part of the American-Iranian Botanical Program ( enjoying natural areas throughout the country with fellow American and Iranian botanists.

Shideh Etaat is a writer/educator who received her MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. Her poetry can be found in Flatmancrooked’s Slim Book of Poetry, the Atlanta Review, Iran Issue, and the recent anthology The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and its Exiles. She is a 2010 Semifinalist for the Nimrod Literary Award’s Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction and a 2010 Glimmer Train Fiction Open Finalist. She is a 2011 Breadloaf Work Study Scholar and is in the process of completing her first novel.

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-67) is arguably Iran’s most significant and controversial female poet of the 20th century. She died in an automobile accident at the age of 32. The translations in this anthology are from: Sin:—Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (Univ. of Arkansas Press).

Farnaz Fatemi is a first-generation Iranian-American poet, writer and writing teacher. She teaches writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition to regularly publishing poems in journals and anthologies, she is also the author of the libretto for the internationally-produced opera, Dreamwalker. Contact her at:

Tanya Fekri was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to the United States at the age of two. She graduated from University of Washington, majored in Political Science and Law, Societies, and Justice, and minored in Diversity Studies. She is the founder and president of Interfaith Voices of Youth, and was chosen to interview His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on stage at UW in 2008. She attends Seattle University School of Law.

Abo’l-Qasem Ferdowsi was born in the mid-tenth century and died c.1020. He is best known as the author of the epic poem the Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”) which he completed in 1010. Written in an archaic style, Ferdowsi’s masterpiece (which comprises almost 60,000 couplets), synthesizes pre-Islamic Iranian history, lore, and myth to tell the story of the Persian Empire up to the Arab invasion of the 630s. Within two centu- ries of the poet’s death, the Shahnameh had established itself as the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. In 2010 the millennium of the completion of the Shahnameh was celebrated with conferences and exhibitions around the world. Ferdowsi is buried at Tus, near the holy city of Mashhad.

Susan Fletcher is author of ten novels for young readers including Alphabet of Dreams, Shadow Spinner and, in 2013, Falcon in the Glass. Among her books’ numerous honors are the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults lists. She teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Visit her at:

Edward FitzGerald (1809-83) was born in England and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a poet and writer best known for his translation of The Rubáiyát of ‘Omar Khayyam.

Sarah S. Forth has visited Iran twice. She holds a doctorate from Northwestern University, is the author of Eve’s Bible: A Woman’s Guide to the Hebrew Bible, and lives in Los Angeles with her partner Joe. Contact her at:

Lisa Frank holds an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and helped edit many of the pieces in this anthology. Her poems and short stories have been published in the US and abroad. She lives in Galway, Ireland, where she is co-publisher of Doire Press. Visit her at:

Robyn C. Friend, PhD is a dancer, choreographer, linguist, and author. She specializes in the traditional dance of Iran & Central Asia. Her work has taken her throughout the US, Europe, the Near East, Central Asia, and Iran. Her performances and recordings have won awards and rave reviews all over the world. Visit her at:

Jamila Gavin was born in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas and now lives in London. Her book, Coram Boy, won the Children’s Whitbread Award, and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Adapted for the stage, it had two highly successful runs at the National Theatre in 2005/6, followed by a season on Broadway. Her charitable projects include abridging Measure for Measure for the Shakespeare Schools Festival. Visit her at:

Shaghayeh Ghandehari was born and raised in Tehran. She received her B.A. and M.A. in English literature at Allameh Tabatabaei University, and Shahid Beheshti University. She is currently at work on her PhD. She has translated over 60 books for children and adults, and has won awards for her work.

Jahangir Golestan-Parast was born in Isfahan, raised in a family of restauranteurs. He studied and worked in London and Paris before moving to Orange County, California and studying film at UCLA. His documentaries include, Esfahan: A City Known as Half the World; Iran: A Video Journey; and Bam 6.6. The film Not Without My Daughter, which starred Sally Fields, compelled him to make films that informed and educated the world about the true texture of the Iranian culture and people.

Nathan Gonzalez is part-time lecturer of international studies and political science at California State University, Long Beach, and founding publisher and executive editor at Nortia Press. He is author of two books on the Middle East, Engaging Iran (2007) and The Sunni-Shia Conflict (2009). He holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and is currently finishing a doctorate in political science at UCLA. Visit him at:

Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz was a fourteenth-century Persian lyric poet from Shiraz whose verses are widely known in Iran and other parts of the Persian-speaking world, and quoted orally to this day. His poems often deal with sincere faith and the exposure of hypocrisy. Hafiz wrote almost exclusively in the ghazal form. The poet’s tomb in the Musalla Garden in Shiraz is popular with both Iranians and tourists alike.

Kabir Helminski has traveled to Iran to speak on world peace. He is co-director, with his wife, Camille Helminski of the Threshold Society, a Sufi organization of the Mevlevi Order of dervishes, which traces back to Rumi.

Shervin Hess is a half-Iranian half-American whose cause is protecting wildlife. He helped establish a Nevada wilderness area, restored a derelict marsh in New York City and collaborates with Iranian conservation NGO Plan4Land. A former PBS TV producer, he now serves as multimedia specialist for the Oregon Zoo in his hometown of Portland.

Basia Irland is an author, poet, sculptor, installation artist, and activist who creates in- ternational water projects featured in her book, Water Library, University of New Mexico Press, 2007. The book focuses on projects the artist has created over three decades in Africa, Canada, Europe, South America, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Her web site is

Persis M. Karim was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area by her French mother and Iranian father. Her poems have been published in numerous national literary journals. She is co-editor of the forthcoming Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian Americans (University of Arkansas Press) and a professor of literature and creative writing at San Jose State University. Read about her other books at:

Mahmood Karimi-Hakak is a theatre artist, filmmaker, poet, author and translator with over 50 stage and screen productions, six plays, four translations and numerous articles and essays to his credit. A Professor of Creative Arts at Siena College, Mahmood is the recipient of five artistic and scholarly awards including Fulbright. Contact him at

Rashin Kheiriyeh received her MA from Alzahra University of Tehran, Iran. She is an animation director and painter whose work includes 40 illustrated books for children published in Iran, France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, India and the United States. Rashin received first prize for best character designer at the China Animation & Comic Contest 2012, and was winner of the Golden Apple Prize from the Bratislava Illustration Biennial, Slovakia, 2011.

Fatemeh Keshavarz is the author of Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita In Tehran, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill (2007), among other books. She is a poet, writer and the director of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park. Visit her at:

‘Omar Khayyam was an eleventh-century Persian poet, philosopher, and scientist. His poetry has had a major impact on literature, and was popularized in the English-speaking world through the translations and renderings by scholars such as Thomas Hyde (1636- 1703) and Edward Fitzgerald (1809-83).

Daniel Ladinsky was raised in St. Louis, traveled the world and spent much time in a spiritual community in India. Among others, his books include The Gift: Poems By Hafiz; A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations; The Purity of Desire: One Hundred Poems of Rumi.

John W. Limbert is a U.S. Ambassador and was held in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. He is a Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at the U.S. Naval Academy, following a 33-year career in the United States Foreign Service. Ambassador Limbert has taught in Iranian high schools and at the University of Shiraz. His books include Iran: At War With History; Shiraz in the Age of Hafiz; and Negotiating With Iran.

Damon Lynch loves photography, peace building, and writing free software. He is at work on a PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of Minnesota, and has an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He is from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Visit him at:

Rosemarie Brittner Mahyera is the founding director of the English Language Institute at the University of Utah. She taught ESL to international students and has had the privilege of coming to know many of them as friends. In 2001, she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Indonesia.

Aidin Massoudi was born in Tehran, Iran, but calls San Francisco his home. He holds an MFA from City University of New York, Brooklyn College and is working on the completion of his manuscript, Field Song.

Nancy Matthews a graduate of Connecticut College, has spent most of her adult life in the international field, first as the wife of H. Freeman Matthews, Jr. a senior Foreign Service Officer, and then as Vice President for the Arts at Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. She currently resides in Missoula, MT, where she is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Montana.

Amir Haeri Mehrizi is a tour guide and translator living in Iran. Contact him at:

Javad Mohsenian, M.D. is a psychiatrist in suburban Philadelphia. He wrote “Wave in the Wheatfield,” while in high school, and “A Guide to University Entrance Exams,” and “To-day is Also Late” while in medical school. His two novels in English, Persian Moonlight and 9/11 Children were published in the United States. Forthcoming with Gorgias Press is a collection of stories in English and Persian entitled Gold for Sugar.

Elizabeth Moore helped edit this anthology. She holds an MA in literature and cre- ative writing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and an MFA from Eastern Washington University. Her fiction has appeared in 42Opus, and Sou’wester.

Neilufar Naini is a 5th degree black belt and Shidoin in Aikido under Birankai International and currently is the Chief Instructor at Clallam Aikikai (a.k.a. Port Angeles Aikikai, Her Aikido path led her to Sequim, WA, where she works on an organic farm. She holds a B.A. in Physics and an M.S. in Education.

Manijeh Nasrabadi received her MFA from Hunter College in 2007 and is now a PhD student in American Studies at NYU. Her essays and articles have appeared in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Social Text online, About Face (Seal Press), Tehran Bureau,,, and Callaloo.

Joan Nathan is the author of ten cookbooks including the recently published Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France (Knopf, November 2010). She is a regular contributor to the NYT Food Arts Magazine and Tablet Magazine.

Dr. Aphrodite Désirée Navab is an artist and writer of Iranian and Greek descent (born in Esfahan, Iran). She earned an Ed.D. in Art Education at Columbia University (2004), and a BA magna cum laude from Harvard College (1993). She is currently writing a novel, The Homeling. Visit her at:

Sina Nayeri was born in 1981 in, Esfahan, Iran, and graduated with a BFA in graphics from New York Institute of Technology. He is a multi-media specialist for advertisements and television shows.

Angella M. Nazarian is the author of two best-selling books: Life As a Visitor (2009) and Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World (2012). She has a background in psychology and is a speaker at various national women’s conferences. Her Persian-Jewish family recipes appeared in the New York Times last year as a cover piece on March 24, 2010. Shahrokh Nikfar led a Friendship Delegation to Iran in the spring of 2009 in which Americans were hosted by families in Iran who shared the same interests and professions. Nikfar hosts a weekly radio show called The Persian Hour on Thin Air Community Radio in Spokane, Washington, in 2004. His program promotes understanding of Iran and the Iranian culture through music, book and movie reviews, the sharing of Persian recipes, and interviews with people who have traveled to or lived in Iran.

Jaleh Novini is a translator who lives in Tehran. She studied English Literature at Allameh Tabatabi University and worked for The House of Translation For Children and Young Adults. Her published translations include, White Water, by P.J. Peterson; House of Dies Dreir, by Virgina Hamilton; Light on Snow, by Anita Shreve; Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, among many others.

James Opie is author of two books on tribal rugs, the most recent one is Tribal Rugs:Nomadic and Village Weaving of the Near East and Central Asia, which was published simultaneously in England and the United States in 1992. His current essays have ap- peared in Parabola magazine. He and his wife Catherine reside in Portland, Oregon. Visit him at:

Talie Parhizgar was born and raised in Mashhad, Iran, and came to America in 1976. She received her B.A. from American University of Beirut, Lebanon, and her Ph.D. in Human Behavior and Leadership at US International University in San Diego. She has translated ‘Omar Khayyam’s Rubáiyát into English, and shares his philosophy of life. Talie has taught students from nearly all grade levels, including university. She lives in Spokane, Washington.

Shahrnush Parsipur was born in Iran. She is author of eleven books of fiction and memoir. She was the first recipient of Brown University’s International Writers Project Fellowship. She now lives in California.

Jessica Ramakrishnan is a writer and editor. A graduate of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, her reportage has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Harper’s Bazaar, style. com, amongst other publications.

Ahmad Rezwani is a scholar who lives in Mashhad, Iran.

Karen G. Ruffle is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Historical Studies and Religion at the University of Toronto. She has conducted field research in India, Pakistan, Iran, and Syria. Ruffle is the author of Gender, Sainthood, and Everyday Practice in South Asian Shi‘ism (University of North Carolina Press, 2011).

Jalal al-Din Rumi was a thirteenth-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic who lived most of his life in Anatolia. His poems have been translated into many languages, and in 2007, he was described as the “most popular poet in America.” His works often deal with the divine, and the quest to be reunited with the Beloved.

Sheikh Mosleh al-Din Sa’di was a thirteenth-century poet from Shiraz. His work is widely quoted and recited by Iranian schoolchildren. Sa’di’s work is best known for its social reflection and approachability. The poet’s shrine in Shiraz is a great attraction for lovers of poetry and literature.

Susan Safa was born in Ventura, California. She received a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. She enjoys reading, listening to music, ancient Persian history, home decorating, being in nature, and takes great pride in making a positive impact in other people’s lives.

Meghan Nuttall Sayres conceived and edited this anthology. She feels privileged to have met many of its contributors and hopes to meet them all in person. Read more about her on page 275. Visit her at:

Roger Sedarat is the author of two poetry collections: Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio UP’s 2007 Hollis Summers’ Prize, and Ghazal Games (Ohio UP, 2011). He teaches poetry and translation in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York. Visit him at:

Farnoosh Seifoddini received an MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University. She is a published poet who lives in San Franscisco, where she enjoys col- laborative projects and destination workshops with fellow poets. Farnoosh recently joined the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Visit her at:

Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) was a poet and painter who traveled the world only to return to his hometown of Kashan, where he is buried. The beauty of nature permeates his work.

Shahriar Shahriari was born in Iran, educated in England and Canada, and currently lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles, California. He is a mechanical engineer by training, and a lover of Persian mystical poetry. For more information, go to

Rick Steves hosts the public television program “Rick Steve’s Europe” and the public radio show “Travel With Rick Steves,” and is also the authors of numerous travel guides. His “Rick Steves Iran” public television special has received international praise. Visit him at:

Rowan Storm is recognized internationally as a frame drum designer, performer and educator of traditional Middle Eastern hand drumming and singing. She studied the ancient Persian frame drums Dayereh and Daf with the master of classical Persian music, Mohammad Reza Lotfi. Rowan performs in venues including San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum and Greece’s Epidavros Ancient Amphitheater. Visit her at:

Ericka Taylor holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. While pursuing her master’s, she served as Assistant Managing Editor at Willow Springs Magazine. She graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in English and her non- fiction has been published in Human Ecology News, Cornell Political Forum, and Ark Magazine. She has an as yet untitled novel in progress and contributed to the editing of several pieces in this collection.

Bill Wolak is a poet who has just published his eighth book of poetry Whatever Nakedness Allows. He recently co-translated with Maria Bennett My Voice Seeks You, the first trans- lation of the Italian poet Annelisa Addolorato. Mr. Wolak teaches creative writing at William Paterson University.

Sholeh Wolpé is a poet, and literary translator. Her books include three collections of po- etry, two books of translations, and four anthologies. Her most recent books are: Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths and Breaking the Jaws of Silence, both forthcoming in 2013 from the University of Arkansas Press. Born in Iran, she lives in Los Angeles.