An Evening in Persia

On Thursday 2 November, The New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation (Te Tumu Whakawhiti Tuhinga o Aotearoa) held its third (and the last) gathering of the year with the event ‘An Evening in Persian Literature and Calligraphy’.

A gathering of staff and students of the School of Languages and Cultures writing in Persian calligraphy.

Sepideh Firoozkoohi, PhD candidate from the University of Auckland, gave a presentation on ‘Male and Female Expressions of Attitude in Persian Versions of Wuthering Heights’, with a Q&A session moderated by Fahim Afarinasadi, a PhD student at the School of Languages & Cultures at Victoria. Apart from her methodology and critical analysis, Sepideh impressed the audience with her findings of more than 36 Persian translations of Wuthering Heights published in the past sixty year.

Multitasking as organiser, MC and presenter, Fahim followed with a short talk on ‘Paradox of Persia: Media and Reality’, highlighting the diversity and complexity of Persian culture beyond stereotypical media portrayals of Iranian politics.

Adding a visual layer to the lively discussion of all things Persian, a small ‘pop-up’ exhibition of Persian calligraphy was mounted in a corner of the seminar room by Roya Jabarouty, another PhD student at Victoria University. Using traditional calligraphic tools, including Qalam, courtesy of Wai-te-ata Press, Roya also collected attendees’ names and wrote them out in beautiful Persian script.

In the final open mic session, attendees recited Persian poetry by Hafiz (14th-Century poet) and Saadi (13th-Century poet) in Persian, with translations in English and Chinese.

The gathering, jointly hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation and the School of Languages & Cultures, attracted not only regular NZCLT members, but also a good turnout from beyond the Centre and the School. Different styles of Persian were heard spoken throughout the event. Apart from showcasing the richness of an ancient, venerable cultural tradition, ‘An Evening in Persian Literature and Calligraphy’ also reminded us that Persian is very much a vivid, immediate part of our very own cultural fabric.