2 Iranian Poets Imprisoned

by on Dec.25, 2013

[I was asked to translate this from a facebook page set up by Swedish poets who have worked with Fateme Ekhtesari:]

As friends and colleagues of the poets and activists Fateme Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, we want to call your attention to the fact that they have been missing from their homes in Iran since December 7. On Christmas Eve it was confirmed that they are in the infamous Evin Prison in Teheran.

During 2013, Fateme Ekhtesari, born 1986, has been part of the literary exchange, Resistance At My Writing Desk, through which six poets from Iran and six poets from Sweden together translated the Persian poets’ work to Swedish. The collaboration culminated in a special issue of the journal Kritiker devoted to contemporary Persian poetry, as well as appearances by the Persian poets at the poetry festivals in Stockholm and Göteborg this past September. Upon returning to Iran, Fateme was arrested and interrogated for hours. Her Facebook account was hacked and her blog was shut down.

On December 6, Fateme was supposed to travel to Turkey with her writing teacher, the poet and activist Mehdi Moosavi, born 1976. At the airport they were both informed that they had been placed under travel bans and were instead summoned to an interrogation. They chose not to appear at the interrogation, but within a few hours they had disappeared. Since then, nobody has heard from them. On Christmas Even, sources from the Evin Prison confirmed that they were there.

We hope you will use whatever channels and forums you have access to in order to spread the word about the situation of these poets. The families of Fateme and Mehdi are trying to call attention to their situation. Please contact administrators to spread the news. Share the information about the event in every possible way.

[Here’s the original announcement.]

5 comments for this entry:
  1. Eric Swanson

    I would urge the authorities to release all political prisoners. Free speech is a cornerstone of democracy and a human society.

  2. Michael Graves - Poet

    “On Poetry (Art) and Social Responsibility”
    by Michael Graves

    Poetry is one of the most dangerous, most powerful, and one of the most unorganized forces in the world.

    Consider the effect that a single poet can create on the human psyche.

    Shakespeare, Rumi, Rimbaud, Dylan, Poe, Pound, Dickinson, Baudelaire, Cummings, Neruda, Yeats, Plath, Ginsberg, Burns, Bukowski, Dylan Thomas, Blake, Frost,Wordsworth, Whitman, and countless others.

    Poetry combined with music was powerful enough to play an important part in helping to change the social face of my country in the 1960’s. If you were there to witness it, you know exactly what I mean. One of the most famous pieces of poetry of that decade begins: “How many roads must a man walk down/before you call him a man…”

    Poetry soothes the aching heart. It kindles the flame of love. It is a precursor to inspiration. It calls men to sail a sea that they otherwise might not. Poetry performs a catalytic function between conditions: a bridge between disassociation and engagement; between non-involvement and responsibility; between denial and consideration.

    At some point, a piece of poetry left a mark on you that was indelible. You still can recall it. That quality of poetry can bring change to the world — literally.

    If poetry is not also used to bring about needed change in social and political conditions, it denies a fundamental aspect of its basic purpose, and to this degree and in this way, it lies fallow.

    Poetry is not bound by physical barriers. It is not stopped by walls. It can infiltrate elitist
    compounds, and pierce the walls of fortresses and prisons. It can bypass embargoes as easily as a breeze travels down a city street. I am writing from a redwood forest in California. You are reading this. Distance is not a barrier to poetry.

    One of the reasons that poets are held in contempt by those who use force to suppress, is that while poets command the very, very real skills to inflame the spirit of those who are oppressed and move them to active social change or even open, violent revolt; that ability is far too often used by poets for nothing beyond introverted maunderings, voiced in
    cautious, hushed tones. As a result, suppressors find spitting on poets a very safe thing to do.

    Poetry is powered by the human spirit. It is carried in the hearts and minds of the people.
    Historically, ideas have toppled empires. All social movements — all of the changes in history — have been sparked by communication.

    “…I am the song on the lips
    of slaves.

    I am sire to the million whispers in the night,
    before the riotous dawn.

    I am the throbbing life blood;
    the hope that breathes yet, beneath the heel
    of the iron boot.
    And awaits its time.

    And I am that time,
    which will come.

    I am the driver of men, beyond broad, deadly
    expanses, thirsting
    for new worlds.

    I am the line
    plotted past the edge of charts.

    I am the dreams beyond those
    yet dreamed.

    I am the new voice of songs yet
    to be formed on the lips of
    those yet to be born.

    And I am the dawn
    of a new Age!…”

    Poetry once lacked the proper distribution system. We now have a distribution system which is more powerful than any in the history of Earth — the Internet. Change can now potentially take place “one reader at a time” on a very, very broad scale. Poetry does not need to sway six billion people in order to achieve its goal. It only has to reach and affect those with sufficiently significant influence, or a significant number of people, for
    change to occur.

    What if we had a million poets creating life-changing pieces in a wave which is directed
    at a single point of oppression? Or directed at a focused, few points of suppression? Think about it. What kind of effect might we then create?

    It is time to send the tyrants screaming into the night, pursued by a wave of voices that no number of bullets can ever kill.

    Poetry can change the world. But only if it is wielded, not proffered. Get organized.

    Pass it on.

    “Night Must Fall on the Regime”

    The time, has come.

    Night will fall
    on the regime.

    The summer air
    half a world away
    is filled with
    of souls that you
    have betrayed.

    You, whose proper function was
    to serve.

    who turn “your”
    country on the
    roasting spit of oppression,
    charring humanity to
    black flakes over
    the painful fires
    of violence;
    seasoned with the
    smell of fear.

    is not
    the way of humanity!

    You do not speak for me!

    You once could commit
    your perverted crimes,
    shrouded in secrecy.
    But now worldwide,
    awareness of your
    actions is just a URL away.

    And thus,
    is the bright light of day;

    the television camera;

    the kleig lights of the world stage;

    the video
    taken with the phone of
    the man in the street — upon
    whose neck you once could
    stand with impunity
    — and posted to the web.

    Within an instant,
    the entire WORLD


    what you are doing.

    Secrecy is no longer
    your option; no longer
    your shield.

    To sit and do nothing
    while you continue,
    degrades me, and
    stains each
    of my brothers and sisters
    with shame.

    To permit you to persist,
    reduces the humanity
    of each one
    of the inhabitants
    of Earth.

    Each one.

    This is
    the way of a leader.

    This is not
    the way
    of humanity.

    A populace is
    collection of personal toys
    to be played
    with and bled;
    you pathetic, wanton child.
    There is no pride in this.
    Only decrepitude.

    Stalin was thus;
    Hitler was thus;
    George III was thus,
    the masters of the Inquisition were thus.
    These are your brothers.

    If the only reasoning that you will
    respond to, is the knife
    at your own throat
    then consider that you are now on notice.

    Your lies and deceit will birth
    the bloody tumult.

    I weep for your countrymen.
    I weep for my brothers and sisters;
    but know
    that in the end you
    will be roasted
    on a spit of your own
    and so, out of humanity
    I weep for you.

    But not so much.

    It is time.

    must fall

    on the regime.

    I am the poet
    and I live in a billion
    We are the dreamers of dreams
    and we WILL prevail.

    Your remains will
    blow away on the fresh winds
    of morning,
    the rising sun
    of a new day.

    There are a million voices waiting
    to take my place.
    A million songs being honed.
    A sky-full of razor-sharp arrows
    that are all
    at your heart.

    Our songs live on the lips
    of “your” people.
    Our songs form
    the million whispers
    in the night,
    before the riotous dawn.

    Our songs feed
    the throbbing



    of hope that breathes yet,
    beneath the heel
    of the iron boot,

    And that time,
    has come.

    For the sake of

    For the sake of
    songs yet
    to be formed
    on the lips of
    those yet to be born;

    night will fall
    on the regime.

    You cannot
    dull my advance.
    Your suppression only sharpens
    my quill
    and broadens my legend.

    We march as one



    One unturnable wave of
    forward motion
    and we speak
    for humanity

    We will
    outlive you, outlast you,
    You who would crush all hope.

    You are my enemy.
    This is personal.

    I am the singer of songs
    I am the dreamer of dreams
    I inspire the future, and craft
    the inspirational blade that even now thirsts
    for your throat.
    There are more poets on Earth
    than you can count.
    And more than you can ever

    And regardless
    of the number that
    you slaughter,

    cannot stop us…

    The time has come.
    And night will
    fall on the regime.”

    –Graves 6/22/12

    “On Poetry and Social Responsibility”

    Author’s Note: Though this piece was written about poetry, its premise applies to all forms of art and the artists that power them. We are all in an unprecedented position to influence not only our culture, but the cultures of the planet. And who better to do it? Politicians have been wearing this hat for millennia and have driven themselves as a
    group into a lower condition. It is only fitting that we bypass and handle. Not as those who would govern the culture, but as those who illustrate the direction that a culture should properly take in it’s evolution from the existing scene to a more ideal scene, and provide effective encouragement and motivation for the achievement of that evolution.
    As artists, it’s our job and our purpose.

    More of Michael Graves’ poetry is at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Michael-Graves-Poet/59117439868

    Copyright (c) 2012 by Michael Graves, All Rights Reserved, except the right to forward and to share with friends – with credit — which is held to be a good idea and thus


  3. Michael Graves - Poet

    I have shared the story of these two poets with several poetry websites whose members total more than 20,000. Hopefully we can get some movement from this.

  4. Isaac Newton

    I’m from Iran.
    Fateme Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi are two of the best modern poets in Iran.

    This Pseudo-Islamic + Radical communistic regime didn’t/doesn’t/won’t realize WHAT IS ART