Introduction & Table of Contents

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Click the links in red to read the excerpt from Love and Pomegranates.
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Preface p.xv
Introduction p.1

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| First Impressions and Persian Hospitality p.7 |

Contributors from East and West share stories about random acts of kindness they re- ceived in Iran and the people who went out of their way to help them. Their experiences speak of encounters with those who offered them assistance, guidance, and even mentor- ing. Contributors offer their initial impressions of Iran—whether they are Westerners traveling there for the first time, Iranians of the Diaspora returning to their homeland after a long absence, or Iranians welcoming guests and relatives.
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“The Fragrance of Naan,” an essay by Shahrokh Nikfar, who rediscovers his Iranian soul in Tehran after a long absence. p.8

“Stones In A New Garden,” an essay by Aphrodite Désirée Navab, who realizes a life- long dream to return to Iran. p.12

“The Fruit of Persian Hospitality,” an essay by James Opie about a cucumber, a passport and help from a stranger. p.16

“Lost,” an essay by Sarah S. Forth, who becomes separated from her tour group, alone in the dark in Esfahan, and worst of all, late for dinner. p.20

“Esfahan With Elnaz,” an essay by Deniz Azime Aral about her trip from Istanbul to Iran and the family in Iran who adopts her for nearly a week. p.23

“Come and See Iran, An Interview With Amir Haeri Mehrizi,” by Tanya Fekri in which an Iranian tour guide talks candidly about his job and life. p.27

“The Golestan of Sa’di, Chapter 2, Story 26,” a tale by Sheikh Mosleh al-Din Sa’di, translated by Richard Francis Burton, on discovering a touch of the divine while journeying by caravan. p.32

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| Finding Ourselves in the Other p.35 |

Writers remembering and commemorating Iranians they’ve known and loved. Westerners recognizing common ground with Iranians or feeling at home in Iran. Iranians of the Diaspora explore what it means to be Iranian in their new homelands. Those living in exile yearn for the people and traditions they miss.
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“A Friendship of Words,” an essay by Susan Fletcher, who remembers Hussein “Elvand” Ebrahimi, an Iranian friend and children’s book translator. p.36

“Fly, Howl, Love, A Tribute to the Life of Forugh Farrokhzad,” and, “I Will Never Wear Her Clothes,” poems by Shideh Etaat—one celebrating the life of the late, beloved Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, and another honoring Shideh’s mother. p.43

“Persia/Iran,” an essay by Jamila Gavin about her British and Indian parents who met in Iran and shared a long-held love of all things Persian. p.48

“So, What Did You Think About Iran?” an essay by Nathan Gonzalez, who explores this question commonly asked of visitors to Iran. p.50

“Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been,” and, “Beyond,” poems by Persis M. Karim reflect- ing on her Iranian roots and her mother language. p.54

“Masquerade,” an essay by Jasmin Darznik, an Iranian-American remembering her Iranian grandmother, who never missed a chance to go trick-or-treating when visiting America. p.56

“Movies With My Aunt,” by Afarin Bellisario, a reminiscence about craving the glamour and romance of American movies while growing up in 1960’s Tehran. p.59

“Iranian (-) American” and “Nose Jobs,” poems by Roger Sedarat about identity, walk- ing incognito, and renouncing one’s origins. p.62

“Morteza Varzi,” an essay by Robyn C. Friend, PhD, who remembers her classical Persian music master. p.66

“Travels With Ramazan,” an essay by Meghan Nuttall Sayres about an excursion to a Zoroastrian cave shrine with a 90-year-old weaver. p.69

“No Fellow Footfall,” by Ryszard Antolak, a story about his visit to Qalat, a small town south of Shiraz in which he meets a woman who could “cast a shadow in the shadowless surroundings” of an ancient and ruined Armenian church. p.76

“Madar,” and “Return, July 2000,” poems by Dominic Parviz Brookshaw celebrating his British-Irianian roots. p.80

“Not Iranian, Not American, but Definitely A Full-Blooded Granddaughter,” an essay by Susan Safa about struggling with her identity growing up Iranian in America. p.84

“Weaving Through Generations,” an essay by Neilufar Naini on finding strength and guidance from her grandmother’s carpet. p.87

“Why I Wrote About An Iranian Heroine,” a speech by Meghan Nuttall Sayres given at Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival, March 2005. p.90

“A Merging of Three Souls,” poetry by Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Bill Wolak and the ancient Sufi poet Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz. p.93

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| Tasting Home p.101 |

Iranians of the Diaspora celebrate and maintain ties with their culture through food.
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“Love and Pomegranates,” by Dr. Mohammad Abolfazli, on the qualities of this celebrated fruit. p.102

“Tasting Home,” an essay by Taha Ebrahimi about finding an unexpected community after moving to London. p.103

“Shirazi Limes” an essay by Farnaz Fatemi offering mouth-watering expertise on the best way to savor a Shirazi lime. p.107

“Exile, Food, and Identity,” an anecdote by Angella M. Nazarian on the importance of remembering recipes. p.109

“The Laughter of Pomegranates,” by Rumi, translated by Kabir Helminski and Ahmad Rezwani. p.113

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| Art and Culture p.117 |

Contributors express their abiding appreciation for Iranian art, literature, music, and religion.
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“Journey Into Iran’s Literary Landscape,” an essay by Meghan Nuttall Sayres about finding like minds and an abundance of imagination among artists at Iran’s First International Children’s Book Festival. p.118

“Cultural Exchange Through Translation, An Interview with Shaghayegh Ghandehari,” by Ericka Taylor. Ghandehari’s, early love of Western literature led her to become a translator for children and adults in Iran. p.124

“On Loving,” “Rebellious God,” and “Only Voice Remains,” poems by Forugh Farrokhzad, who is considered modern Iran’s most famous woman poet. Her poems, translated by Sholeh Wolpé, written from the perspective of a woman, both socially and sexually, were controversial in 1950’s and 60’s Iran. Her work has opened the door for and inspired other poets, a few of whom are included in this collection. p.129

“Bam 6.6, The Movie,” an interview by Brian H. Appleton with Iranian-American film- maker Jahanghir Golestan-Parast. How locals helped American travelers caught in the devastating Bam earthquake in 2003. p.134

“Persia Primeval,” an essay by Shervin Hess who searches the deepest Iranian wilderness to find meaning in a Khayyam quatrain and what it might reveal about the fate of Iran’s wildlife. p.137

“The Oldest Living Iranian,” an essay by Ryszard Antolak celebrating the longevity of this Iranian icon. p.141

“’A Bold Hand,’ Making A Mark on the Art World,” an article by Jeff Baron on the punk rock mentality of Negar Ahkami’s paintings. p.143

“Travels and Wonders in Iran From the Point of View of an American-Greek Woman Musician,” a blog excerpt by Rowan Storm on her first visit to Iran, where she traveled solo to play frame drums with master musicians. p.145

“Painting Iran’s Secrets, A Profile of Artist Laurie Blum,” who finds her inner gard- den while painting at the foot of the shrine of the Persian Sufi poet Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz. p.149

“The Festival of No-Ruz,” a story excerpt by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, translated by Dick Davis in his book Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings. p.151

“Norooz,” a poem by Farnoosh Seifoddini about the Persian New Year. p.153

“Welcome, Norooz, Welcome!” a poem by Azin Arefi celebrating a beloved ancient tradition. p.154

“From Tehran to America, A Sketch of Artist Fahimeh Amiri,” an essay by Rosemarie Brittner Mahyera about the transformation of a miniatures artist’s work after moving to America. p.156

“Conversation With Composer Behzad Ranjabarab” an interview by Fariba Amini about his life, work, and his Shahnameh millennium concert. p.159

“Iran’s Literary Giantess is Defiant in Exile, But Missing Home,” a profile by Mohammed Al-Urdun of Shahrnush Parsipur, who fled Iran in the 1990s rather than face jail for her writing. p.163

“Jinn Struck,” a retelling of a traditional Iranian ghost story by Javad Mohsenian, M.D. p.165

Quatrains from Rubáiyát by ‘Omar Khayyam, translated by Talie Parhizgar, and Edward Fitzgerald, on wisdom for life’s journey. p.171

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| Islam and Other Faiths p.175 |

Writers explore Islam, Sufism, Zoroastrianism and other spiritual paths and how these faiths enrich or influence their lives.
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“We Are All Pilgrims, Exploring Spirits and Selves with Iranian Women in a Damascus Shrine,” an essay in which Islamic Studies scholar Karen G. Ruffle describes an epiphany while praying with women in a mosque. p.176

“Ripened Fruit,” a translation of Rumi by Kabir Helminski and Ahmad Rezwani. p.179

“Forest Fire,” an essay by Manijeh Nasrabadi on traveling to Iran to meet her Zoroastrian relatives. p.181

“Ghazal 374, Hafiz,” translated by Shahriar Shahriari and contributed by Jaleh Novini who, like many of her fellow Iranians, “speaks with” the ancient poet Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz regularly. p.186

“Bagh-e Eram,” a poem by Aidin Massoudi, that in keeping with Sufi tradition, is inspired by an interfaith appreciation, Christian and Muslim. p.187

“What Iran’s Jews Say,” an article by Roger Cohen reporting from Iran for The New York Times in 2009. p.188

“Sohrab Sepehri at 80,” an essay by Ryszard Antolak about one of Iran’s celebrated poets. p.190

“The Reapers of Dawn,” a poem by Sohrab Sepehri, translated by Mehdi Afshar. p.193

“Baba Kuhi and Hafiz of Shiraz,” an article by photo-journalist Damon Lynch, meditat- ing at both a well-known and an obscure Sufi shrine in Shiraz. p.194

“I Have Learned So Much,” a rendering of a poem by Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky, which takes us to a place beyond religious distinctions. p.196

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| A New Path Forward p.199 |

Contributors discuss ways in which we might engage more deeply with Iran. Some highlight the peace tours in which they’ve participated, the notion of travel as a political act, or the professional exchanges they’ve attended in Iran. Others question the language that frames most discussions on Iran. Others offer ways to consider this country not as foe, but as potential friend.
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“A Gentle Breeze Once Briefly Blew,” an essay by Nancy Matthews about her work initiating and implementing international artists exchanges between the US and Iran. p.200

“Your Mother and My Mother,” a rendering of a poem by Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky. p.204

“Travel As A Political Act,” a blog excerpt from Rick Steves, a national television and radio travel show host. p.205

“Iranian Cure For the Delta’s Blues,” an article by Joel K. Bourne, Jr. While political leaders in the US and Iran are practicing brinksmanship, health care professionals from both countries are working together to serve the underserved in Mississippi. p.207

“An Ice Book Floats Down the Karun River,” an essay by Basia Irland about her collabo- ration with Iranian eco-artists. p.211

“A Persian Picnic, With Plants,” an essay by Berkeley biologist Barbara Ertter on her adventures while studying the flora and fauna of the Alborz Mountains. p.213

“From Tehran to Missoula, An Interview With Artist Rashin Kheiriyeh,” by Elizabeth Moore. p.216

“Who Is It We Fear?” an essay by ceramic artist Judith Ernst reflecting on perceptions versus reality in Iran. p.221

“This Sane Idea,” a rendering of a poem by Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky. p.224

“Tens,” a poem by Azin Arefi about growing up in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. p.225

“The Lover Who Saw a Blemish in His Beloved’s Eye,” a poem by Farid ud-Din Attar, translated by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis, conveying wisdom from his epic poem The Conference of the Birds on ways of viewing the other. p.227

“How Do I Despise Thee? Let Me Count the (Many) Ways,” an excerpt by Ambassador John W. Limbert. A diplomat explores preconceived notions between Iranians and Americans and suggests ways in which to engage Iran. p.228

“The Impact of US Meddling,” an excerpt by Reese Erlich from his book The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis. p.232

“Jailed in Tehran,” an interview by Jessica Ramakrishnan with Iason Athanasiadis, a Greek photojournalist released from prison during the post-election protests in 2009. p.234

“I Am Neda,” a poem by Sholeh Wolpé commemorating Neda Agah-Soltan, a 26-year- old Iranian woman and a student of philosophy, who was shot during the post-election protests in Iran in June 2009. p.237

“Is There Another Way?” an excerpt by Reese Erlich from his book The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis. p.238

“Weaving Peace in Tehran,” an essay by Meghan Nuttall Sayres. What the author learned from Sufi wisdom about her own culture as the first American to weave on Iran’s World Peace Carpet, a project sponsored by UNESCO. p.240

“The Jasmine, the Stars, and the Grassshoppers” an excerpt by Fatemeh Keshavarz from her book Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran. An anecdote about her grandmother’s love and jasmine petals that asks us to look for the goodness in Iranians today. p.245

“If God Invited You To A Party,” a rendering of a poem by Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky. p.248

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| More Love Online… |

We couldn’t fit all of our contributors’ work into our physical book; however, their essays, interviews and poems (presented alphabetically) are featured online at as well as other e-formats. We invite you to share your story on our blog.
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“Forty Days in a Wilderness of Heartland,” a poem by Brian H. Appleton on missing Iran.

“My Grandmother’s Fesenjoon,” a recipe contributed by Neilufar Naini in memory of Majideh Massumi.

“An Iranian Seder in Beverly Hills,” by Joan Nathan.
“Norooz in New Jersey,” a poem by Roger Sedarat about the Persian New Year.

“Modern Iranian Amulets,” an excerpt by Bill Wolak and Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, exploring amulets, good luck charms, and protection from jinn.

“Reaching Out in Friendship, A Civilian Diplomat in Iran,” by Bill Wolak, on the importance of cross-cultural experiences.

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Acknowledgments p.251

About the Artwork p.253

Contributors p.254

Permissions p.265

Notes p.269
About the Editor p.275