#TPQ5: Bänoo Zan

Hafez (or Hafiz)

Hafez is nicknamed the Mouthpiece of the Divine. Almost all Iranians see themselves reflected in his poetry. It is political, spiritual, and romantic at the same time. He is so good he is almost untranslatable. Learn Persian!

The Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) – Ferdowsi

The poet Ferdowsi incorporated Persian myths and legends into this epic. In an attempt to preserve the language, he spent 30 years of his life writing in pure Persian. While the stories are not always happy, the language is uplifting. It is the only epic I can read in the original.

Forough Farrokhzad

Farrokhzad is a contemporary feminist Iranian poet. She openly wrote about female desire and criticized the hypocrisy of her times. She was also influenced by the strong Sufi tradition of Persian poetry and her latest work is a testimony to how artists can be enriched by the culture without being confined by it.

Ahmad Shamlou

Ahmad Shamlou is nicknamed “the Poet of Freedom.” He was jailed before and after the Islamic revolution and wrote with courage, conviction, vision, and in a style all his own. I brought few books from Iran with me. His are among those few.

Deep Diversity: Overcoming us vs. Them – Shakil Choudhury

As an immigrant, I have been thinking about the roots of the deep divide between diverse communities. This book confirms my observations. I have been recommending it to everyone since I read it.


Bänoo Zan is a poet, librettist, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 180 published poems and poetry-related pieces as well as three books. Song of Phoenix: Life and Works of Sylvia Plath, was reprinted in Iran in 2010. Songs of Exile, her first poetry collection, was released in 2016 in Canada by Guernica Editions. It was shortlisted for Gerald Lampert Memorial Award by the League of Canadian Poets in 2017. Letters to My Father, her second poetry book, was published in 2017 by Piquant Press in Canada. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). It is a brave space that bridges the gap between communities of poets from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, poetic styles, voices and visions. rghrhino@gmail.com

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