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Poetry: Echoes in Exile by Sheema Kalbasi


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An important and honest voice from the Middle East. Sheema Kalbasi is a human right activist, an award winning poet, and literary translator. She is the director of Dialogue of Nations through Poetry in Translation, director of Poetry of Iranian Women Project, the poetry editor of Muse Apprentice Guild and the co-director of the Other Voices International project. She has authored two collections of poems to date. One is titled Echoes in Exile in English, and the second is called Sangsar (stoning) in Persian. Kalbasi's work has appeared in numerous magazines, literary reviews, anthologies, and has been translated into several languages. She is one of the few literary figures to promote poets of Iranian heritage as well as international poets into an English speaking audience. Furthermore she has created the horizontal and vertical, a new style in poetry. A frequent, and outspoken person, Kalbasi's work is distinguished by her passionate defense of the ethnic and religious minorities' rights.

Sheema Kalbasi

She has worked for the United Nations and the Center for non Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, and in Denmark. Today she lives with her husband and daughter in the United States.

Publication Date:  Nov 2006

PRA Publishing

What the literary world is saying about
Echoes in Exile

Sheema Kalbasi's poems attest to our tragic situation in which exile becomes a privileged position for pointing out the prevalent injustice of displacement. Her deeply engaging and reflective poems allow us to wrest away the very idea of homecoming in a world that denies it.  

- Dr. Peyman Vahabzadeh, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, author of Articulated Experiences: Toward a Radical Phenomenology of Contemporary Social Movements



Sheema Kalbasi's poems speak of love, loss, and life in exile. They are the poems of a human rights activist passionate with the hope of peace.

Kalbasi's poetry exposes the deep heart of a woman who is compassionate with suffering and full of the joy of life, of the innocence of a child, the knowledge of a woman, the aspirations of a peacemaker. These are stirring poems with a worldly view, both accessible and imaginative. They make an excellent cross-cultural exchange that demonstrates our universal humanity.

-Daniela Gioseffi,

American book award winning author of WOMEN ON WAR: INTERNATIONAL WRITINGS.


 In her poem, "New England" Sheema Kalbasi writes:

She slips the shelves and shadows
of her new found friends within
the walls of her nights dream before another

summer-morning lights the start of the day

and through this steady music and bright vision we enter the world of a fine poet, who, like her daughter, dances among, and slips the shadows and shelves of both her heritage and her new home to become something startlingly fresh and vibrant. A beautiful book.  An important new voice.   

- Dr. Joel B. Peckham, Jr ., Department of American Literature, University of Cincinnati, Clermont College, author of Night walking, and Asleep at the Wheel


Through compassion and wisdom she weaves the world together with her vivid words. World history is not national, it is international, and in her words, I found traces of my history, my life, my grief, and my desires. Sheema, a world citizen, shows in this powerful book, that just as the Earth is gold at its core, moving hot liquid, she does too.

-Birgitta Jonsdottir, poet, editor of the Book of Hope (including works by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Rita Dove and Ron Whitehead).


There are honest & hard won poems here. They speak of pain & cruelty & loss, the very elements that separate us from each other - to our mutual sorrow. There is also love & hope for redemption.  Heartfelt & true.                                               

- Roger Aplon, poet, writer, Latest Collections: The Man with His Back to the Room & Intimacies


Sheema Kalbasi belongs to that world-wide community of the passionate and caring, who write of exile, injustice and desire.

 -- Wayne Amtzis, poet, photographer, and editor


Kalbasi's poetry is generous and abundantly human, passionate and compassionate. 

-- Jimmy Santiago Baca, award winning poet, and author of Immigrants in Our Own Land


In an age of extremes, be they from the right or the left, from any and all religions, it is rare to hear a voice of reason, mature and graceful. Sheema Kalbasi has that voice. Echoes in Exile is a cry in the wilderness, an oratorio Kalbasi says she needs to "write to keep nothing from overloading nothing." We learn more about the world in these poems, and thus, about ourselves.

-Daniel Y. Harris, M. Div, lecturer, essayist, poet, and translator


Sheema Kalbasi's debut collection documents her struggle to confront the past and absorb a new culture.  Born in Iran and now living in the United States, she handles complex threads of the Middle Eastern tapestry (which she refers to in "Kaddish" as God's "bloody sore") and weaves her own vivid fabric within it.  Part chronicle of losses, self-doubt, and of what is retained (family), part polemic against an oppressive past and quest for her own identity, Kalbasi's concluding account of a passionate interlude reveals her evolving consciousness. 

- D. H. MELHEM author of New York Poems, Rest in Love, Blight, other works.  Stigma and the Cave: Two Novels


Ms. Kalbasi's remarkably open volume of poetry, Echoes in Exile, dwells on justice, humanity, a "sublime divine" love for her daughter and mother (beautifully rendered in "Mama in the War"), an affair gone awry, seasons, a revolution lived through, exile, and loss.
"I am not good in the game of heart. I am a simple girl...I said. /he said: Sheema....."
"I write what you can't write my name: Sheema
... I will never influence my child the way I was influenced by the World events.
I will be telling her the story of a kiss by a leaf descending on the skin of a sleeping beauty in the gardens of Persia. "Nothing is eternal. Not family, not friendships, not love, not lust. Nothing... not even the wandering eyes that will read these lines in wonder. /His love is my story."  Her story is the story of love, achingly written.

- Katayoon Zandvakili


... Payvand News - 12/18/06 ... --

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