Alireza Abiz (Iran/UK) is an Iranian poet, literary critic and translator based in London. He studied English Literature in Mashhad and Tehran universities and received his PhD in Creative Writing –Poetry from Newcastle University, UK. Abiz has written extensively on Persian contemporary literature and culture. His scholarly book ‘Censorship of Literature in Post-Revolutionary Iran: Politics and Culture since 1979’ is forthcoming by Bloomsbury. He has so far published five collections of poetry in Persian; ‘Stop! We must get off’, ‘Spaghetti with Mexican sauce’, ‘I can hear a tree from my desk’ “13/1 Koohsangi Street” and ‘Black Line- London Underground’. The latest collection published in 2017 was awarded the most prestigious independent poetry award in Iran, the Shamlou Award.  Abiz is also an award-winning translator and has translated some leading English language poets including Basil Bunting, Derek Walcott, Jack Kerouac and C.K. Williams into Persian. He is a board member in Poetry Translation Centre and the chief judge in Sarah Maguire Poetry in Translation Prize.









I have a kindly interrogator

He’s interested in philosophy and free verse

He admires Churchill and drinks green tea

He is delicate and bespectacled

He is lightly-bearded and has a woman’s voice

He is polite and doesn’t insult me

He has never beaten me up

He has never demanded false confessions

He says: only write the truth

I say: on my life







The agent asked me for an ID card


And none of my cards had a photo

I had to talk to the woman passing outside in the street

The woman fell down

And was changed into a blade of grass


Terrified, I returned

The agent still had my card- photoless- in his hand

We went out into the street

The woman was passing, her handbag over her shoulder


I approached and called out to her

She turned and in the form of a lifeless dove

Descended onto my ID card






Until this moment I had not thought

About the pressure gauge across from me

But I have thought a lot

About Breyten Breytenbach


And about his apology for his brilliant poem

To which he appended a list

Of those who had lost their lives

As well as the name of their murderer


“Dear Prime Minister,

I honestly apologize.

Writing that poem was unjustified

As was its publication”


So, sincerely, to the dictator

Apologized Breyten Breytenbach, poet





بازجوی مهربان


من بازجوی مهربانی دارم

به فلسفه و شعرِ نو علاقمند است

از چرچیل خوشش می آید و چای سبز می نوشد

ظریف و عینکی ست

ته ریشِ نازکی دارد با صدایی زنانه

مؤدب است و توهین نمی کند

هرگز مرا نزده است

هرگز نخواسته اعتراف دروغ بکنم

می گوید: فقط راستش را بنویس

 می گویم: چشم!


کارت شناسایی



مامور از من کارتِ شناسایی می خواست


و کارت های من هیچ کدام عکس نداشت

می بایست با زنی که در خیابان می رفت صحبت کنم

زن بر زمین افتاد

و به بوته ی علفی تبدیل شد



هراسان برگشتم

و با ماموری که هنوز

کارتِ بدونِ عکسِ مرا در دست داشت

به خیابان آمدیم

زن با کیفش در دست می گذشت


به او نزدیک شدم و صدایش کردم

برگشت و در هیئتِ کبوتری بی جان

بر کارتِ شناساییِ من فرود آمد





به آن فشارسنج که رو به­روی من است

تا این دم نیندیشیده بودم

به برایتِن برایتِنباخ اما

بسیار اندیشیده­ام

به عذرخواهیِ او بابتِ شعرِ درخشانش

که در آن نامِ جان باختگان را

در فهرستی نوشت

و نامِ قاتل­شان را

نابِ نخست وزیر!

صادقانه عذر می­خواهم

نوشتن آن شعر کار ناشایستی بود

و انتشارش هم

صمیمانه عذر خواست از دیکتاتور

برایتِن برایتِنباخِ شاعر






Translated from Farsi by W.N. Herbert


W.N. Herbert (also known as Bill Herbert) is a poet and academic and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature who writes both in English and Scottish. He is the author of 8 poetry collections and is currently professor of poetry and creative writing at Newcastle University, UK.