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Ghazal Games: Poems by Roger Sedarat

Source: Ohio University Press

As an Iranian American poet, Roger Sedarat fuses Western and Eastern traditions to reinvent the classical Persian form of the ghazal. For its humor as well as its spirituality, the poems in this collection can perhaps best be described as “Wallace Stevens meets Rumi.” Perhaps most striking is the poet’s use of the ancient ghazal form in the tradition of the classical masters like Hafez and Rumi to politically challenge the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continual crackdown on protesters. Not since the late Agha Shahid Ali has a poet translated the letter as well as the spirit of this form into English, using musicality and inventive rhyme to extend the reach of the ghazal in a new language and tradition.

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Advance Praise for Ghazal Games

“These poems are to be savored in their audacity - in turn witty, erotic, ludic, learned, engaged. Roger Sedarat’s ghazals bridge the form’s (and the poet’s) Persian sources to American demotic language, and open couplet windows on transnational reality.”
-Marilyn Hacker, winner of the National Book Award and author of Names: Poems

Ghazal Games overflows with intelligent charm: its well-formed couplets, fueled by iconoclasm, are blessed with clarity, goodheartedness, pizzazz, and prankishness. Let’s crown Roger Sedarat the king of Carnival; long may he reign.”
-Wayne Koestenbaum, author of Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films

“In his new collection of poetry, Roger Sedarat strikes the perfect balance between Eastern and Western expression, between the modern and the medieval, and between the sacred and the profane. A delight on every page, one can’t help but imagine that if Hafez, Rumi, and other Sufi mystic poets - even Goethe - were transported to the twenty-first century, their tweets might read something like this.”
-Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge

Roger Sedarat
is the author of Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize in 2007. He teaches poetry and translation in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York.

Excerpt from Ghazal Games, by Roger Sedarat

The Sword

It’s true, “The pen’s mightier than the sword.”
But what cuts off the poet’s hand? The sword.

Deconstructionists unscrewed handles and
Melted metal to understand the sword.

After the overthrow of the regime,
Newly elected leaders banned the sword.

Because it hurt children, as a father
I decided to reprimand the sword.

So hot in hell the holy warrior
Fed on his frozen heart and fanned the sword.

Please excuse my use of “the sword.” It takes
Violent language to split apart this word.

(Originally published in Green Mountains Review)

Book Information:

Ghazal Games: Poems
By Roger Sedarat
82 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 in.
ISBN 978-0-8214-1950-2, Paperback, $16.95
Published June 28, 2011, by Ohio University Press

To order books: Ohio University Press, University of Chicago Distribution Center, 11030 South Langley Ave., Chicago, IL 60628. Call: 773-702-7000. FAX: 773-702-7212. In the U.K. and Europe: contact Eurospan Group, c/o Turpin Distribution, Pegasus Drive, Stratton Business Park, Biddleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 8TQ, UK; Tel: +44 (0) 1767 604972, Fax: +44 (0) 1767 601640; Email: Orders and customer service:; All other information: or

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