was born in the northeastern part of Iran, in Fars-Abad of Dashte Moghan near the Caspian sea in 1960 to a tribal family. He believes living a nomadic life, with its spirit of transience and innate lyricism, has profoundly affected his poetry. He left for Germany in 1984. He is the author of more than ten books of poetry, prose, and translations, including poetry books Berlin Elegies, Circles and Never,
and The Book of Never.
He is the editor of an online literary magazine, Ketabe Siavash.
His work has been translated into German and Swedish. A CD of his poetry set to music is called Landing.
Though his work is not political, it has a social conscience. His profound awareness of his exile does not narrow his poetic potential, but it endows him with a historical context. Rashid is of the generation whose youth was spent on the revolution—without the desired results—but the tumultuous events of his early adulthood do not limit the scope of his work; instead they leave traces for the reader, echoes of historic events in the scenes he creates. Iran’s rich poetic history, both its classical and modern poetry, is a significant tradition for a poet to emerge from. Rashid not only gives us poetic elements such as attention to language, imagery, and symbol, but beyond creating beauty in lyric form, he gives us ideas.
Rashid came of age after he left his country, equipped with references of both his Eastern and Western lives. He claims the Western literary and historical tradition as his own and at his disposal as they shape his work. In his poems, he addresses Dante in a journey to hell, as Dante conjured Virgil as his companion. He writes of Hamlet, Shakespeare and borrows from Hafez, Rimbaud, Marx, Shamlou, the Bible, the Koran, the myth of Sisyphus, the myth of Icarus.
His is a personal-epic poem, a blend of what Eastern-Islamic and Western-Greek cultural imaginations present him to deliver us what speaks to our blended imagination.
“Seasonless Years,” “Downfall on the Horizon,” and “Icarus” are excerpts from three long poems, narratives about falling, both vertically and horizontally.Seasonless Years
(excerpt)We have landed from the heights of our flightAnd there is no seed by the trapNeglect and vanity have cultivated our livesEven our sleep doesn’t benefit from our fatigueOur mending ways rot under the audacious sunCharting our separation is an age-old habit.Sterile wounds, we will not be avenged.
Yesterday has us memorized.
Do you remember
When we blindfolded night
With my purple scarf?
And in our dreams ran toward a sea
Without a shore?
It dawned because of our mischief
five hours early,
Do you remember?
I am not the restraint of forty dervishes
Nor is the earth a meager sheath.
The stars and the senate do not obey us,
For we are not Caesars.
We are the red rose in the wine tavern
On nights of avarice, in hellish cities.
Who made you into such a locust
That you chew yourself, chew,
Chew and spit
Yourself onto passersby
In the stammering day?
In square rooms
A poet is on fire.Downfall on the Horizon
(excerpt)At times, at dusk you see a manStanding on his terraceHeavy-headed, with a bitter mouth and lost wordsStaring at passing colorsIn the impenetrable narcotic air.Could you, for a second,In the flustered flow of a fall river,Address his ceramic eyes?Could you?
I am tired.
I wish I could become a bench this afternoon
On this thirteenth bright-eyed weariness,
Catch my breath, leave the body
To become a drop of stone, hard, released, cold
And appeal to earth, dreaming of snow.
Something is always forgotten in the empty house.
A little thing like a small mirror,
A freckle-faced doll, a piece of agate,
A line of poetry on the hem of a floral handkerchief.
A small thing,
Keeper of smells and memories.
A few people always remain outside the circle.
There is always one person weeping in the wet abandoned
Fields in the sting of a white December.
There is always one person denying his country
Refusing to be the guardian of a crestfallen land,
Errant on disinherited earth.
There is always one person stretching to smell the red rose
In the steepest slopes, in the state of descent.
All seats are taken
And there is no room to sit.
I will sit on the loins of a stone
Under the shadow of a thistle
On the edge of the pit that separates us
And I will watch the world’s little characters and heroes
In days lost in fog
In nights narrowed by rain,
And I shall weep the flares of your pain
In the verses of a winter’s solstice.
Excerpted from Belonging by Edited by Niloufar Talebi. Copyright © 2008 by Niloufar Talebi. Excerpted by permission of North Atlantic Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.