Friday, December 31, 2010


Wishing for "Awareness", "Understanding" and "Peace" in 2011....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Afghanistan: a Window on the Tragedy

"Afghanistan a Window on the Tragedy" is the second book published by Basque-born artist and photographer Alen Silva who courageously traveled twice across war-torn Afghanistan, to capture soul-searching photographs of the devastated land, to remind us the formidable, destructive feature of war. Among these pictures are the ruins of Kabul, Bamiyan Buddhas, Soviet tanks, and Afghan society whose hope for peace still lightens the weary faces of the Afghan people who welcomed Alen and shared their lives with him.

This book includes Ninety-eight black and white photos, accompanied commentaries, poetry, short stories and articles by thirteen distinguished contributors including myself. Texts are by Alen Silva, Alan Rachins, Bahman Ghobadi, Bernardo Atxaga, Ezzat Goushegir, Gillian Anderson, John Sistiaga, Malalai Joya, Michael Ratner, Mike Farrell, Suheir Hammad, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Toti Martinez de Lezea, and Yasmina Khadra.

Mike Farrell notes: “Alen Silva’s Window on the tragedy of Afghanistan is the wondrous demonstration of the value art can bring to life. His work vividly depicts the history, the haunting beauty, the glory and horror of Afghanistan. This book rips at the conscience while it begs for a future for this ravaged land.”
Alen Silva's first book is called Afghanistan.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bright sun and the End of 2010

Chicago is beautiful today. Bright sun and white snow...And I have many unfinished projects!

Monday, December 27, 2010

An Oldman and His Bed

انسان ... كل ما يملك فى الحياة شوال
A human being ... That's all he has!
By Nabil Mourad

"The deepest waters make the least noise."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Save Life!

"The execution of Habibollah Latifi, a male member of the Kurdish minority in Iran, has been scheduled for 26 December, according to his lawyer. He was sentenced to death following an unfair trial.

Habibollah Latifi, a law student at Azad University in the south western province of Ilam, western Iran, was transferred to solitary confinement on 16 January 2010, prompting fears that he was to be executed. It is not known how long he was held there. His lawyer has now been informed by the Iranian authorities, in accordance with Iranian law, that his execution is scheduled to take place on 26 December,at Sanandaj Prison, Kordestan. Executions usually take place at daybreak.
Habibollah Latifi was arrested on 23 October 2007 in Sanandaj and sentenced to death on 3 July 2008 following an unfair trial by the Sanandaj Revolutionary Court. He was convicted of moharebeh (enmity against God), a vague but capital charge, in connection with his membership of and alleged activities on behalf of the Kurdish Independent Life Party (PJAK), a proscribed armed group. His trial was held behind closed doors and his lawyer was not allowed to be present to defend him. Nor was his family allowed to attend the trial. His death sentence was upheld by the Appeal Court in Sanandaj on 18 February 2009."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Review of "Dis-Grace"

Written by John O’keefe
Directed by Erica Barnes
Performed by:
Stephanie Brown (Simone)
Amanda Lucas (Katherine)
Melanie Renae (Christine)
Photos of the production by Eric Bartholomew
Blank Line Collective presented the Chicago premiere of John O'keefe's "Disgrace" from Sept 24th to Oct 16th 2010, at Lacuna Lofts, 2150 S. Canalport .

Disgrace is one of John O’keefe’s renowned feminist plays written in 1980s when he was in the peak of his eminent theatrical time. Shimmer was a blast at that time, won many awards and his other plays were performed on the stages everywhere! It was 1990-91 when I had workshop with him as his student at the University of Iowa where I was still new to the country and the culture. After twenty years, I met him again in Chicago and saw Disgrace with him for the second time last October. Disgrace a lyrical play and complex in its nature is written with immense potentiality to explore and experimentation for staging.

Erica Barnes, the director, and assistant director Melissa Law, had discovered enormous possibilities to use a vast space to experiment with all the actualities to innovate a performance to be uniquely theatrical, highly physical and vastly exceptional. The place was a renovated brick exposed, used-to-be macaroni factory in a dark and almost remote area, where we could contemplate Chicago’s glittering night from several arched windows before entering the theatre. The environment created an atmosphere of familiarity and a feeling of intimacy with the space and the audience, unified with actors and all the theatrical elements.

Photo by Brad Warrenburg

In darkness, we waited behind a transparent plastic curtain for a few minutes, then we were directed to the center stage covered with canvas, cushions and few chairs around a poll. We sat in the center. It was a breath taking moment when the elevator stopped and we heard whispering captive voices as the flash lights gave us the sense of the space, the characters and the audience.

Understanding John O’keefe’s childhood upbringing as Catholic, the play uses many religious mentality and references of biblical myth. The three women were as if driven away from the Garden of Eden, but instead of being descended, they transcended into an unknown space of imagination with their Victorian garments and baskets for picnic in their hands; a scene which reminds us of Renoir’s paintings. The first scene designed dream like, magical and mysterious as if we read the first line of Bible with a new interpretation in a godless sphere: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” [Genesis, 1:1-3]
Although the stage/space was rectangular, we felt as if we were in an abstract galaxy, revolving around an axis, as the actors circling in an elliptical way like the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun. And the repeated use of absolute darkness and light, thunderstorm, rain and the sound of a heavy elevator going up and down and the whispering voices…

Three women Simone, Katherine, and Christine in their highest point of youth, sexual desires and potentiality for love, formed a bond of exiled sisters in an imaginary journey while fleeing from a prison cell or mental institutions, before they were taken to a gas chamber perhaps. They all committed crimes against a man called Francoise (Frank), the same man (or symbolically the same man) they loved. O’keefe in his play refers to the mythical story of the original sin and the fall of man, deconstructs its definition and concentrates on the execution of violence by some men towards women as the cause of their power demonstration and unconscious guilt. But women also committed crimes as a result of imposed violence.

Women’s passion for Francoise resonated in me a breathtaking allegorical play I saw long time ago in Iran; “Crime on Goat-Island ” by Ugo Betti, the Italian playwright as well as the movie “Passionate Summer” an adaptation of the same play. But unlike the “Crime on Goat-Island”, O’keefe makes it ambiguous to his audience whether Françoise (Frank) was shared by the three women or he is a symbolic figure of a man who seduces and then tortures women.
Three women in three different sequences tell their stories contained with passion, betrayal, violence, murder and pain, yet all deny their murder sometimes. Simone’s story explains the absurdist’s idea of human’s sorrowful, pointless and futile search for life.

Simone I killed my baby
Christine You’re not supposed to kill your baby
Simone Why not?
Christine Because babies don’t do anything.
Simone Babies do everything. They’re smart. They’re so smart they can’t even talk. They make you goo and coo, they pop their eyes and drivel on their chins, they poop on their hands. They scream all nights. They scream all day. Because they hate this world. They hate the creatures from this world. Because they’re from another planet. And they yearn for their planet. They scream for their planet. They scream in hatred for the women, who stuffed them in their bellies and pulled them down into this dirty, pointed world, stuffed them in bags in their bellies and ran away with them into this dirty, pointed world.”

The notion of the myth, the erotic concept of the story and the modern interpretation of biblical perception helps the director to create scenes which brings to mind paintings such as “Bathers” by Renoir.

The marriage scene, the unification before falling from three windows, their vows for solidarity remains in mind as an interior uttered language which an innocent criminal would confess before purification, the end as the beginning of one’s life.

Christine I, the despised, the despicable, the desperate, the displaced, the disgraced…
Katherine We’re not that bad
Simone We are.

The production was a memorable performance by significant actors Stephanie Brown as Simone, Amanda Lucas as Katherine and Melanie Renae as Christine and the great talent Erica Barnes as director.

John O'keefe and I, Photo by Martyna Centeno

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A review of my story "Mushrooms on My Mother's Chest"

Painting by Kondrashof Sergey
An in-depth look into one of my stories "Mushrooms on My Mother's Chest" by writer and reviewer Asad Seif published in Shahrzad News.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reviews of My Stories

A well spent, notable reviews of my books by writer, poet and critic Mahasti Shahrokhi in Chachman Bidar, a Persian Blog publications in France.

Strange Times, My Dear!

In This Dead End
By Ahmad Shamlu
Translated by ?

They smell your breath.
You better not have said, "I love you."
They smell your heart.
These are strange times, darling...
And they flog love
at the roadblock.
We had better hide love in the closet...
In this crooked dead end and twisting chill,
they feed the fire
with the kindling of song and poetry.
Do not risk a thought.
These are strange times, darling...
He who knocks on the door at midnight
has come to kill the light.
We had better hide light in the closet...
Those there are butchers
stationed at the crossroads
with bloody clubs and cleavers.
These are strange times, darling...
And they excise smiles from lips
and songs from mouths.
We had better hide joy in the closet...
Canaries barbecued
on a fire of lilies and jasmine,
these are strange times, darling...
Satan drunk with victory
sits at our funeral feast.
We had better hide God in the closet.

Yalda Night

This is an excerpt of an email my friend Naiman sent us:
Wish for a Merry Christmas & Happy Kwanza, Hanukkah & Yalda.
"As we approach with the few remaining hours of sunlight today the winter solstice (Yalda in Persian) , the longest night of the year ; it is apropos that I take the time to wish you health and abundance of other blessings in this season where the miracle of four holiday traditions coincide.

The ancient Persians celebrated every three months the change of seasons, and marked the first day of spring in March (Noruz) as the beginning of their year.The winter holiday of Yalda in which they celebrated the bounty of their recently collected harvests and the birth of various kings as well as nobility figures, is believed by many historians to be the actual holiday that many pagans who were later to become Christians appropriated for their own purposes."

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Exhibition titled “ Listen “.
Photography By Newsha Tavakolian at Aaran Art Gallery in Tehran

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stained Handkerchief

Stained Handkerchief, one of my short short stories published in Chachman Bidar, a Persian-blog publications since 2003 by Mahasti Shahrokhi.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What's the mystery behind Bluebeard's folk story?

Curiosity? Wisdom? Fear? or....
Listen to a scene from an Opera Conducted by Sir George Solti at London Philharmonic Orchestra
Béla Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle Door1
Judith: Sylvia Sass
Bluebeard: Kolos Kováts
Directed by: Miklós Szinetár

"Judith and Bluebeard arrive at his castle, which is all dark. Bluebeard asks Judith if she wants to stay and even offers her an opportunity to leave, but she decides to stay. Judith insists that all the doors be opened, to allow light to enter into the forbidding interior, insisting further that her demands are based on her love for Bluebeard. Bluebeard refuses, saying that they are private places not to be explored by others, and asking Judith to love him but ask no questions. Judith persists, and eventually prevails over his resistance....Read more...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence By Paul Simon and Garfunkel.
Read the lyrics and listen to the song. After thirty four years, the words and the music are still speaking to us!

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
Read more

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Coalition of Resistance National Conference. Youth, Student and Education Workshop:
"On the streets of London, Britain’s young people are now demonstrating that their character has been misjudged. None has done so more articulately than Barnably Raine, a 15 year-old speaking at the Coalition of Resistance national conference in London on November 27."
"...I think now, that claim is quiet ridiculous! I think..."
Watch the video!

Poetry of Silence

Time Paints, Photo by Kamenf

Sometimes, the best music is silence!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Narcissus and Echo by John William Waterhouse (1847–1917)

My new short story "I" published in Chachman Bidar, a Persian-blog-publications in France since 2003 by Mahasti Shahrokhi.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sisyphus and the absurdity of life!

The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus.
"In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: "No. It requires revolt." He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.""

Attacking Iran!

U.S. Facing Global Diplomatic Crisis Following Massive WikiLeaks Release of Secret Diplomatic Cables

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing a giant trove of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that is sending shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment. Among the findings: Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran; Washington and Yemen agreed to cover up the use of U.S. warplanes to bomb Yemen; the United States is using its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network and asking diplomats to gather intelligence; and much more.Read or watch on Democracy Now.

Gulf of Wikileaks

Gulf of Wikileaks, a new cartoon by Kaveh Adel

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scent of Reunion

Love and union between nations through songs. Listen to a beautiful duet by Mahsa Vahdat and Mighty Sam McClain : Scent of Reunion.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Michelangelo’s Moses

A symmetry of power in Michelangelo’s Moses

Below is an abstract of a significant, multi perspective article by Aladin Goushegir, Faculty of Literature and Humanities.

"Among the various interpretations of Michelangelo’s Moses, Freud’s is well-known. The founder of psychoanalysis reviews all the critics and interpretations of this masterpiece and then offers his own: this Moses is not about to spring up, as claimed by others, but on the contrary, is sitting down, suppressing his “rage”. In the light of recent works of Daniel Arasse, art critic (study of the “signification” of the index finger in Renaissance works), and Christian Bromberger, anthropologist (Trichologiaques, the analysis of the significations of pilosity, “beard” in particular), and by integrating some details neglected by critics up to now, the author of this paper intends to argue that the main theme of this set of three statues together (Moses, Rachel and Lea) is the power. The arrangement of the assembly is symmetrical: the divine power or celestial (horned Moses in the center, the Tablets of the Law and the contemplative posture of Rachel on the left) and the terrestrial power of the man-prophet (the palpable force emanating from exuberant musculature, the imposing beard, the statue of Lea staring the Earth)."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Where is My Humanity?

A humorous, yet haunting cartoon by Kaveh Adel, describing today's world! It reminds me so much of the novel "Peter schlemiel, the Man who Sold his Shadow" by Adelbert Von Chamisso, translated by Peter Wortsman. An incredible book on human tragedy.

Read my review of the novel.

In a poem, Kaveh illustrates his drawing:

I looked in my coat pocket,
And my sleeves,
Under my collar,
And around the buttons,
Tried to take off the coat,
but I saw what was not there

Monday, November 22, 2010

Medea Was Born in Fallujah

A ten minute version of my play "Medea Was Born in Fallujah" is published in Istanbul Literary Review.

Anna Castenna Antonacci as Medea - Turin- Opera by Cherubini

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nubia Maat Ptah

I know Nubia Maat Ptah since 2004 when she took my class "Imagism and Poetic Vision in Play writing" at School for New Learning, DePaul University. In 2005 she took another class I taught "Single Mothers, Single Women, Single Fathers, Single Men"...Her passion for learning, her openness to new ideas, her persistence and diligent hard working were immense. She graduated and immediately started the Graduate School. Now she will be a PHD student soon. Her goal is serving humanity and her community, I believe. That raises enormous admiration!

It was my delightful surprise to learn that she published her first book "Unfinished Business", a book of poetry, essays, memoir and self improvement in 2007. In my astonishment I read in acknowledgments page that I was one of the people whom she thanked me for "guiding her to the vehicle that will never restrict her creativity".
This is my valuable gift for teaching at DePaul University!

Nubia begins her book with her own quote : "Fragmented pieces of my mind have a way of roaming into my dreams, altering the course of my life." And ends it with: "The self is such a delicate jewel that if chiseled incorrectly it will become worthless."
All my best to you Nubia!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Visit

Jan Lenica, 1928-2001, Wizyta Starszej Pani (The Visit), 1958. Poster for play by the Swiss dramatist, Friedrich Dürrenmatt.

Last night I visited one of my friends after several months. A friend whose greatest challenge was to become superbly successful with her persistence and hard working. She struggled silently over the course of twenty years.

I listened to her story while having dinner with the company of her little Maxi, contemplating the magnificent Chicago's glittering night under our feet. Maxi was not a luxury in her life...He was a true love...hairy, white with big eyes and a little green ball...I could transparently guess the result of the election. I did not bother to get the news from TV or Internet. I was haunted by her story, electrified by her soft, cold tone of her voice, hungry for all the details. Her story brought to my mind the essence of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play "The Visit of the Old Lady".

I admired her every ingenious illuminating word she uttered...And the determination behind all these years....

At the end of the night, before saying goodnight, I knew I couldn't sleep. She immediately made me chamomile tea. I drank a sip, looked out from the wide windows. The city was alive, but cryptic, as she walked towards her room like a ray of light dissolved in darkness...

At home, I wanted so badly to read the play once again to remember the drive behind human's awakening soul.

Watch a scene
from "The Visit" an adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

La Vie En Rose

Watch a clip of La Vie En Rose a film based on Edith Piaf's life.

(English translation)

Eyes that gaze into mine,
A smile that is lost on his lips—
That is the unretouched portrait
Of the man to whom I belong.

When he takes me in his arms
And speaks softly to me,
I see life in rosy hues.
He tells me words of love,
Words of every day,
And in them I become something.
He has entered my heart,
A part of happiness
Whereof I understand the reason.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


David Grossman: "Anyone who despairs about the possibility of peace has already been defeated, he has already submitted to the fate of never-ending war"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Reader

This fascinating 2008 movie, based on a remarkable novel by Bernhard Schlink, "tells the story of Michael Berg, a German lawyer who as a mid-teenager in 1958 had an affair with an older woman, Hanna Schmitz, who then disappeared only to resurface years later as one of the defendants in a war crimes trial stemming from her actions as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp. Michael realizes that Hanna is keeping a personal secret she believes is worse than her Nazi past — a secret which, if revealed, could help her at the trial."

Watch a trailer of The Reader

Be My Knife

I'm fascinated by "Be My Knife" a novel by David Grossman.

Here is an excerpt of it:
"...We could be like two people who inject themselves with truth serum and at long last have to tell it, the truth. I want to be able to say to myself, "I bled truth with her," yes that's what I want. Be a knife for me, and I, I swear, will be a knife for you: sharp but compassionate, your word, not mine. I didn't even remember that such a delicate, soft tone was allowed in the world, of a word with no skin (if you say it loud a few times, you can feel salty hard earth as water starts pushing through its veins). You're tired, I will force myself to say goodnight."

And the editor's word on it:
"....The writing is dense, demanding, and full of moments of great poetry and inventiveness, but it can become difficult and obscure. Stylistically Grossman is experimenting with plot and character in the grand modernist tradition, and Yair is reminiscent of the tormented "little men" in the works of Joyce and Beckett."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Viva French Resistance (2)

Holding a placard "Listen to the public's rage" in front of the French Senate in Paris

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Viva French Resistance!

Young demonstrators carrying placards shout slogans during a demonstration against the governmental pension reform in Lille, France.

The paper is so small

How Beautiful the world is
If somewhat lonely
among these stars and rocky planets
Ksenia Nekrasov
Written article by Ryszard Antolak

Solidarity will beat cuts

Photo by Fred Dufour

Mass strikes in France:Solidarity will beat cuts.