Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Joan of Arc with Red Lipstick, Pink Nail Polish and Orange Dress


By Ezzat Goushegir

Before wearing my orange dress,
I woke up with my older sister’s tender voice
Asking about my little heart
Embraced by daylight,
I say: Thank you, my sister

I saw it pounding on the screen in hospital’s Cardiac Room, on June 5th, 2012
Still pounding in its little cage
Under thin layers of bones and skin
Clouded by lonely, roaring gases...
Longing for a little touch,
I gazed at it like a little planet hovering in empty space,
Living within itself in a mystifying way
Tears welled in my eyes
For its childlike,  lucid innocence
And its implicit patience
In awe, I say:
Thank you, my heart

Before I leave the bed,
My second sister’s loving voice resonates in my head
How malevolence I am towards you
Thank you my second sister for bearing my redundant cruelties

At eight fifty eight I dial a number hesitantly
To my surprise a woman with Latino accent picks up the phone:
-          This is Carlotta, may I help you?
-          Carlotta, I believe there is a mistake in my file!
(I can’t act the way other people act…I know life is a theatre)
After a while Carlotta says:
-          You’re right! I fixed it!
(I can’t believe on Monday morning something can be fixed that easily!)
 I don’t say: are you sure?
Instead, I say: Thank you, Ms Carlotta
(I don’t say: for your soothing voice that caressed my heart)

I fetch my orange dress from the closet
Dark green snake veins swelled on my hands
Estranged in a labyrinthine, tangled forest
Looking for a meadow to escape out of this maze
My pink nail polish is their comfort zone
Thank you my hands for your healing touch
For rapturous energy you give to those in need
For the food you bring on the tables



Before wearing my orange dress
My son calls me, helping me to search for a ticket on the web
I find one; I pay and fly on the sky with Attar’s thirty birds
Thank you, my son for the reminiscence of Simorgh's story

I was burned sixty times
And I have risen up from Joan of Arc’s ashes over and over again
That’s why I like my orange dress.

I wear my orange dress and paint my lips with red lipstick

In Bank “Cedric” a young black man greets me
He asks: where are you coming from?
I say: Guess!
He is puzzled.
I tell him the origin of my name and its meaning.  Then I ask him what his name means.
He says: It is of old English origin, and it means “kind” and “loved” and it invented by Walter Scott for his book "Ivanhoe".
When I say goodbye, I say Thank you, Cedric
I know the whole Bank would celebrate our names!

The Sun caresses my body
It caresses the trees
The green leaves
The squirrels
The windows,
The cars
Thank you, Sun!

I cross the road while the cars are all stopping for me
Admiring my orange scarf floating in the air
Thank you, cars for your recognition of colors!

In hospital, Ms Patricia, the black receptionist gives me my file with enormous respect
What day is today?
I know Adelaide is turning in Jenny’s belly right now
As if hearing my inaudible voice
When I cry out: Thank you, Universe!

I know many would laugh when I thank even the invisible growth of grass
Let them laugh
I laugh with them with any reason they might have
I know that I have risen up from Joan of Arc’s ashes
And I know that I like my orange dress, red lipstick and pink nail polish

At home, I read the news in ACLU:
“When local police can stop and detain anyone they perceive as "foreign" because of their skin color, their accent or their surname, it is a watershed moment for civil rights.”
My heart is still pounding 
What day is today?

Today is  June 25, 2012

Photo: My Hands by Kaveh Adel

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fear and Misery of the Third Reich

Fear and Misery of the Third Riech

"Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, (German: Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches), also known as The Private Life of the Master Race, is one of Bertolt Brecht's most famous plays and the first of his openly anti-Nazi works. It was first performed in 1938. The production employed Brecht's epic theatre techniques to defamiliarize the behaviour of the characters and to make explicit the play's underlying message.
The play consists of a series of vignettes, portraying National Socialist Germany of the 1930s as a land of poverty, violence, fear and pretence. Nazi antisemitism is depicted in several of the sketches, including "the Physicist", "Judicial Process", and "the Jewish Wife"."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Séraphine De Senlis- The painter

 Séraphine De Senlis- The painter
 Yolande Moreau as Séraphine

"Based on a true story, SÉRAPHINE centers on Séraphine de Senlis (Yolande Moreau), a simple and profoundly devout housekeeper whose brilliantly colorful canvases adorn some of the most famous galleries in the world. German art critic and collector Wilhelm Uhde (The Lives of Others Ulrich Tukur) - the first Picasso buyer and champion of naïve primitive painter Le Douanier Rousseau - discovers her paintings while she is working for him as a maid in the beautiful countryside of Senlis near Paris. A moving and unexpected relationship develops between the avant-garde art dealer and the visionary outsider artist. Martin Provosts fictionalized and poignant portrait of Séraphine is a testament to creativity and the resilience of one womans spirit."
It won the 2009 César Award for Best Film.
Séraphine's painting

This film reminded me of a devout photographer Vivian Maier whom I was deeply touched by her artistic vision and her life.
Vivian Maier self portrait
 
One of Vivian Maier's works

Monday, June 18, 2012

Farzaneh Milani: Woman of the Year

Farzaneh Milani: Woman of the Year

University of Virginia  chair woman of Department of the Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures in the College of Arts & Sciences, Farzaneh Milani, named "Woman of the Year" by the Iranian Women Studies Foundation at the group's annual conference in Cambridge, Mass. Last year, Milani authored "Words Not Swords: Iranian Women Writers and the Freedom of Movement".

Congratulations Dr. Milani! I miss Leila...I still cherish her necklace. And I see the replacement of your memorable blue umbrella with a red one. The umbrella  I lost in a rainy day at the museum in 2010...

People!

Quote of the day by A.G.H, a lady with a significant insight:
"You really do know people and know what you should do to let them know what they should know. And you do it in a graceful way."

Ericka Huggins, forty years later...


Smiley & West welcome former Black Panther Party leader Ericka Huggins, 40 years after her release from prison following the controversial New Haven trial. She is now a professor of women’s studies at California State University, East Bay and sociology at Laney & Berkeley City Colleges.


The Secret of the Grain

 I just saw one of the most outstanding and critically acclaimed French films of the year The Secret of the Grain by the celebrated  director: Abdellatif Kechiche and was immensely touched by it.

This film like  Kechiche's recent film Venus Noire will live inside me for a long time...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Proud Winner: Maryam Toosi

Iranian runner Maryam Toosi won the gold medal in the women's 400m respectively, in 2012.
Congratulations, Maryam-e aziz!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a documentary film, narrated and directed by Werner Herzog

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mon Enfance

Barbara Mon Enfance (De Monique Serf à Barbara)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Franz

Jacques Brel and Barbara in Franz.  "Jacques Brel demonstrates his superb acting skills as he imitates an ape and a battle crazed German soldier while courting Barbara. Their doomed affair is based on the lies they tell each other at the start. From the 1971 film co-written, produced and starred in by Brel named Franz."

Dis, quand reviendras-tu ?

 Dis, quand reviendras-tu ? a beautiful song by Barbara, the French singer, known as the Maria Callas of the French chanson...
Say, when are you coming back?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Diplomatic Negotiations

In The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi explains how skepticism gets in the way of diplomatic negotiations between America and Iran.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Goal of Life

"The goal of life is rapture. Art is the way we experience it."
Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living


A Poem for Intisar Sharif Abdollah


This is a poem by Mahasti Shahrokhi on banning the death sentence by stoning. Intisar Sharif Abdollah, a Sudanese young woman, "whose age has not been determined but is believed to be under the age of 18, was sentenced by a judge on April 22, 2012, for adultery. She initially denied the charge of adultery but later confessed after she was allegedly beaten by a family member."

برای آزادی انتصار شریف عبدالله

                        پیروزی سنگسار

مهستی شاهرخی

نامش انتصار است
انتصار یعنی پیروزی!
و معنای شرافتمند در نامش نهفته است
نام خانوادگی اش مانند پیغمبر: عبدالله!
اما انتصار هرگز پیامبر نبوده است!

زنی است محکوم به مرگ،
به جرم  داشتن ارتباط جنسی نامشروع،
به حکم دستورات پیامبر چندین زنه،
انتصار محکوم است به سنگسار
در سودان قرن بیست و یکم!

انتصار جوان است،
سنش معلوم نیست،
گاهی بیست،
گاهی هیجده،
گاه زیر هیجده،
خیلی جوان است انتصار
کسی را، هیچکس را نکشته است، انتصار.

مادر است انتصار!
انتصار، مادر سه فرزند!
و همراه با او،
نوزاد پنج ماهه اش، 
در زندان خاطوم اسیر!
در زندان تنها نیست انتصار!
بچه شیر می دهد انتصار!

انتصار بومی آفریقایی است
انتصار زبان دادگاه نمی داند،
انتصار حکم شرع اسلامی نمی فهمد،
انتصار به جرم زنا محکوم است به سنگسار!

زنا چرا؟
زنا با کی؟
زنا چگونه؟
زنا در سودان یعنی چه؟
سنگسار مادری جوان به جرم زنا!


کجاییم؟
گاه در ایران،
گاه در سودان،
گاه در پاکستان،
و گاه در آفغانستان.


در چه زمانی سیر می کنیم؟
در هزاره سوم هستیم،
در قرن بیست و یکم!


امروز باز،
انتصاری در انتظار سنگ به سر می برد
انتصاری در انتظار مرگ به سر می برد
انتصاری در انتظار نجات است

انتصار!
سنگسار!
انتظار!
http://www.djazairess.com/fr/infosoir/141114
http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/31/sudan-ban-death-stoning
Soudan : condamnée à la lapidation pour adultère - Une jeune femme soudanaise a été condamnée à la lapidation pour adultère, ont indiqué deux organisations internationales de défense des droits de l'Homme, un cas rare sous le régime islamique au Soudan. Selon l'organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW), basée à New York, Intissar Sharif Abdallah, âgée probablement de moins de 18 ans, a été condamnée en avril par un juge de la région de Khartoum et est détenue en prison avec son bébé. Son affaire «présente de graves violations des lois locales et internationales», a-t-elle précisé dans un communiqué.
Victoire de Lapidation
Mahasti Shahrokhi

Elle s'appelle: "Intessar",
ça signifie "la victoire",
Son nom  "Cherif" lui porte une composition honorable,
Ca veut dire honnête
 Son nom de famille, comme le prophète est: Abdolllah!
Mais Intessar ou "Victoria" n'a jamais était une prophète.

Elle n'est qu'une femme condamnée à mort,
Intessar, notre Victoria n'a tué personne,
Rien que pour une accusation adultère,
Par la loi d'un prophète polygame,
Peine de mort par lapidation,
prononcée contre elle à son procès.


Victoria est jeune,
On ne connaît pas son âge,
peut-être vingt ans,
peut-être dix-huit ans,
peut-être moins,
Elle est très jeune, Victoria, ou Intessar.

C'est une jeune mère,
Mère de trois enfants,
son dernier, son nourrisson de cinq mois,
vit avec elle dans la prison de Khartoum,
Elle n'est pas seule dans sa cellule,
Victoria allaite son bébé.

Intessar est une indigène africaine,
Elle connaît pas le langage de tribunal,
Elle ne comprend pas les lois islamiques
Victoria est quand même condamnée à la lapidation.

Le Crime Adultère!
Pourquoi?
Avec qui?
Comment?
Lapidation!?
On ne  sait rien.

qu'est-ce que signifie "un crime adultère"
 ou "une décision" de lapidation,
par le juge,
pour une mineure,
Pour une jeune mère,
au Soudan?

Ou sommes nous?
Peut-être en Iran?
peut-être au Soudan,
peut-être au Pakistan,
ou peut-être en Afghanistan?

On vit dans quelle époque?
au 3ème millénaire?
C'est le 21ème siècle?
Ou l'âge de la pierre?

Aujourd'hui,
Encore une femme en attente de coups de pierre
Encore une femme en attente de mort
Encore une femme en attente d'aide
Encore une femme en attente d’être sauvée

-----------------------------------------------------------
Der Trumpf der Steinigung
Mahasti Shahrokhi

Ihr Name ist Entesar
Entesar heißt Trumpf!
Und steckt in ihren Name Ehre
Ihr Familienname ist wie Pfropfet: Abdollah!
Aber Entesar war niemals ein Pfropfet!
Sie ist eine Frau von der Hinrichtung bedroht,
Sie wurde verurteilt wegen außerehelicher Liebe,
Verurteilt von der polygame Pfropfet,
Entsar ist zu Steinigung verurteilt.
In Sudan in 21 jahrhundert!
Entesar ist jung,
wie alt? weiß man nicht,
manchmal 20,
manchmal 18,
manchmal unter 18,
Sie ist sehr jung, Entesar!
Keiner, niemandem hat sie getötet, Entesar.
Mutter ist Entesar!
Mutter der drei Kinder ist Entesar!
Zusammen mit ihr,
ihre fünf monatiges Baby
in Khatum`s Knast an der Kette
Allein ist Entesar nicht  im Knast!
Sie Stillt ihr Baby, Entesar!
Entesar ist aus Afrika
Die Sprache des Gerichtes versteht nicht Entesar,
das Gerichtsurteil des islamischen Richters versteht nicht Entesar,
wegen des außerehrlichen Lieben verurteilt zu Steinigung, Entesar!
Was ist die außerehrliche Liebe?
Mit wem eine außerehrliche Liebe?
Wie eine außerehrliche Liebe?
Was bedeutet außerehrliche Liebe?
Die junge Mutter steinigen wegen der außerehrliche Liebe!
Wo sind wir denn?
Manchmal im Iran,
manchmal in Sudan,
manchmal in Pakistan,
und manchmal in Afghanistan.
In welcher Zeit befinden wir uns denn?
In dritte jahrtausend
Heute wieder wartet eine andere Entesar auf ihrer Steinigung
Heute wieder wartet eine andere Entesar auf ihrem Töt
Sie wartet auf ihre Rettung eine von dieser Entesars.
Entesar!
Steinigung!
Warten auf …!

Britain And the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911

Britain And the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911: Foreign Policy, Imperialism, And Dissent (Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East

by  Mansour Bonakdarian 

"This is an in-depth exploration of substantial British support of the Iranian constitutional and national struggle of 1906-1911, illuminating the opposition in Britain to Anglo-Russian imperialist intervention in Iran."

Mansour Bonakdarian teaches imperial and comparative history. His work has appeared in periodicals such as Iranian Studies, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and International Journal of Middle East Studies.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grass

"I think of grass—you know, every two weeks a chap comes out with a lawnmower and cuts it down. Suppose the grass were to say, 'Well, for Pete's sake, what's the use if you keep getting cut down this way?' Instead, it keeps growing."

Joseph Campbell, in "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers"

Goodbye Ray!

You will be missed, dear Ray Bradbury!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hilda, a true picture of domestic imperialism

 
Hila a play by Marie Ndiaye
Translated by Susie Lindeman
Directed by Beata Pilch
Played by Nicole Wiesner, Antonio Brunetti,Geraldine Dulex and Holly Thomas



Last year I attended a reading of Hilda, a powerful play by Marie Nduaye the French playwright. In this complex play which manifests human cruelty, exploitation, domination and class control, the rich, dominant, yet lonely Madame Lemarchand finds a maid named Hilda whom she expects would satisfy her complicated need for an infinite power. She not only alienates Hilda from her own identity, but gradually estranges her from her husband Frank—also a worker—and two children.

Madame Lemarchand creepily acts like a corporate boss, transforms Hilda as her possession and tortuously imposes her husband to pay her when Hilda visits her family. Although Hilda is absent on the stage during the entire play, the audience would see the consequence of this gradual process in Hilda’s and her family’s brutal destruction.

Marie Nduaye skillfully takes us to a familiar world to scrutinize the menacing process of domestic imperialism. Hilda is indeed a modern adaptation of The Maids by Jean Genet. Basically a different take on the real incident happened in France in 1933 as the result of the exploitation of the workers. In this version, if we see it from a larger spectrum, although the maid is absent, she is symbolically present. It’s the intelligent audience who would see Hilda as a silent nation, yet pregnant with rage.
Watching the play at Alliance Francaise de Chicago, as the second reading of The International Voices Project was an extraordinary experience.
The actors from the Trap Door Theatre Company did a fantastic performance. Both Antonio Brunetti (as Frank) and Nicole Wiesner (as Madame Lemarchard ) were brilliant and highly sophisticated.
My review in Amazon.com

Pictures courtesy of  Venus Zarris

The First Female Naqqal in Persian History

 Story of Gordafarid
"Naqqali (Musical Narration) is an Iranian traditional solo theatre in which only men are allowed to perform. As a matter of fact, it's been forbidden for women to appear in a Naqqali performance. The place for this theatre has usually been teahouses & public squares. A Naqqali play is called a Scroll. The Scrolls are derived from ancient legends or historical stories, as well as Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), written by the greatest Iranian epic writer, Ferdowsi, who is widely classified along with Homer. This documentary recounts the story of the very first female Naqqal in Persian history, Fatemeh Habibizad, aka Gordafarid"

In this documentary, the courageous, brave and progressive actress and educator, Habibizad, speaks about her experience in becoming a Naqqa. She goes through an absolutely manly world to preserve Epic Persian poetry as well as  becoming a true voice of Iranian women!

اولین زن نقال در ایران امروز، پیشرو، شجاع و جستجو گر، فاطمه حبیبی زاد در یک فیلم مستند.
گر مرید راه عشقی فکر بد نامی مکن
شیغ صنغان خرقه رهن خانه خمار داشت
زنانشان چنین اند ایرانیان
چگونند گردان و جنگ آوران

هر آنکس که شهنامه خوانی کند
اگر زن بود پهلوانی کند

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Candle at IVP


Last week’s third reading of IVP play reading series on May 29, 2012 was Candle from France written by Fabrice Melquiot, translated by Miriam Heard and directed by Nicole Wiesner. The reading came to life in collaboration with the Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago, Alliance Française de Chicago, Trap Door Theatre and took place at  Alliance Française de Chicago.
Alliance Française de Chicago has always been a huge supporter of IVP since its establishment. Patrizia Acerra expressed her gratitude to Marie-Anne Toledano, Attachée culturelle, Consulat de France mentioning the importance of her positively challenging approach yet persistent and continual support. 

Unlike Hilda , last year’s powerful play by Marie Ndiaye, Candle was a disappointment. It was not only a pretentious play, but also old fashioned in the sense of style and content. Writing about sex and marriage in today’s world, specifically the journalistic analysis of sexuality, made the play boring and outdated. The character “Other Man” was imposing and authoritarian! Further than that the director did not do her homework to convey the points of the play rightly to the audience, even though the shadow performance was beautiful. In the text, playing with words gave to this satirical play a fresh flavor, the actors (John Kahara, Kevin Cox, Lyndsey Rose Kane and Gary Damico) were also enthusiastically present and playful, but the audience was still uninterested and apathetic. I must add that I'm a great fan of French theatre, and I'm not sure whether something went wrong in interpretation!

The last sentence of the synopsis indicates that “Fabrice Melquiot’s Candle turns that table on its audience, asking us to consider whether its final “coup de theatre” is worth the price.” My answer would be: No, it doesn’t worth the price!
Pictures are taken at Alliance Française de Chicago.

A Night with Wagner, Mozart and Schumann


In May 24, 2012 I was invited to see one of Eliza Zielanzinski’s musical performances of Richard Wagner, Wolfgang Mozart and Robert Schumann at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, Northwestern University with hornist Mathew Oliphant and conductor Robert Hasty. Eliza, the concert master, like the rest of University philharmonia, is not majoring in music. She is a PhD student at Northwestern University, majoring in Biology/Molecular Biophysics. Eliza, humble yet outstanding, plays naturally and dances delightfully with her violin, the instrument she has played since her childhood.   
I was more dazzled by Schumann’s piece; symphony No.4 in DMinor, a work in four movements, played without break and linked by a single theme…light and exuberant…..
After the concert, in the joyful weather near Michigan Lake, my friend, amazed by the music and ambiance, asked me:
-What does the name “Eliza” remind you of?
-“Eliza”? …I’m thinking….
- Don't you remember Pygmalion?
-Pygmalion! Yes, Pygmalion!

The Enchanted Island

"Hearts that love can all be broken
How I wish that  prepared you
You forgive, I beseech you
It's too late for me to teach you now!"

A few weeks  ago I saw PBS broadcast of The Enchanted Island,  a baroque fantasy in two acts, written by Jeremy Sams, and inspired by William Shakespeare's the Tempest and A Midsummer night's dream and was stunned by its magical beauty. The production was by New York, Met, in January 21, 2012. The conductor was William Christie.