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Payvand's Iran News ...

Interview with Media Kashigar, translator and writer

Source: Hambastegi, 12/23/00

A few Iranian writers and poets were invited to France some times ago to introduce the contemporary Iranian literature to the world in the House of French Writers. In order to find out more about this event, we interviewed Media Kashigar who was also one of the members of the board selecting the eligible individuals.

Q: Mr. Kashigar why did the House of French Writers decide to invite Iranian writers and poets to the Autumn Festival of Paris and how were they selected?

A: The story of this trip is that last year 'Alan Lance' the French poet and the director of the House of French Writers visited Iran after thirty years and talked to some of the Iranian poets and writers. It was after this trip that he decided to invite three Iranian writers and poets from three different generations of literary creation to participate in the Autumn Festival of Paris. For this purpose a board was founded to select the eligible individuals with Ahmad Gholami, Reza Seid Hosseini, Shirindokht Daghighian and me, as its members.

At first we prepared a list of 18-20 poets and writers and suggested it to the House of French Writers. At the end Manouchehr Atashi, Granaz Mousavi and Bijan Rohani were the poets and Ahmad Mahmoud, Moniro Ravanipour and Mohamad Reza Safdari were the writers selected to go to France. Also Mohamad Ali Sepanlu, one of the most remarkable representatives of the middle generation of literary creation who had published the special issue of Iranian poetry of Poetics with the cooperation of Alan Lance was invited by the House of French Writers to participate in this Festival.

Ultimately we decided to set up a workshop to translate the works of participating Iranian artists into French. The members of this workshop were Christopher Balaii (the remarkable researcher in Iranian Language and Literature), Mary Bern, Aatefeh Tahaii, Amir Moghani, Kaveh Seid Hosseini and Babak Seid Hosseini.

Q: What were the criteria for selection?

A: There were two set of criteria: those of the House of French Writers and our own criteria. As mentioned before, the House of French Writers insisted on selecting people representing three different generations. We added some other criteria that were approved by them. For example, we suggested that the selected people should simultaneously represent the artistic and creative literary variety existing in Iran. Also we tried to select people who were not very well-known in France or Europe.

For example, Mahmoud Dolatabadi could not be included in our list due to the fact that he enjoys an agreeable recognition abroad. No doubt, we could not act as ideally as we wished due to some problems. For example, we thought that because there could be a chance to introduce the works of the third generation of writers of our country in the near future, we selected two people from the second generation. That is why both Moniro Ravanipour and Mohamad Reza Safdari were included in the list. Also due to the vastness of the sphere of poetry among the third generation, we welcomed the presence of Sepanlu and preferred to select two young poets to represent Iranian Poetry in order to compensate the absence of the representative of our young writers.

Q: What sorts of programs were prepared for Iranian poets and writers during their stay in France?

A: One of these programs was to offer the opportunity to converse with well-known French poets and writers, other programs included poetry and story reading in the House of French Writers. Alan Lance invited Iranian poets and writers to his house for dinner, on the first night of their stay in Paris. There were also important literary figures such as Berno Conour, Lionel Rhe, Claude Steban and others. In the second night a ceremony was held in the House of French Writers where the French Minister of Culture was supposed to welcome them, but in the last minutes he was forced to cancel this program and instead of him his representative welcomed the guests. The third night was reserved for story reading. Our writer each read a piece of their works and as Ahmad Mahmoud could not make the trip due to some health problems, I read a part of his famous novel 'Neighbors'. The fourth night was reserved for poetry reading.

Q: What was your part in the whole procedure?

A: I was only the coordinator of the relationship between the two cultures.

N.B. I do apologize for the possible wrong spellings of the French names.

-- Translated for by Roya Monajem,

The Persian Garden : Echoes of Paradise

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