Persian Poetry Through the Ages: From Rumi & Hafez to Forough Farrokhzad & Kaveh Akbar

Persian Poetry Through the Ages: From Rumi & Hafez to Forough Farrokhzad & Kaveh Akbar

Take inspiration from a poetic tradition filled with imaginative verse and spanning more than eight centuries.

Poetry written in the Persian language, also known as Farsi, has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. While Rumi is probably the best-known Persian poet in the English-speaking world – translations of his work have turned him into a U.S. bestseller – there are many other Persian poets that deserve readers’ and writers’ attention.  

In this course, we will focus on English translations of some of the most well-known Persian poets of the past, including Rumi and Hafez, and then read modern and contemporary poetry that has stemmed from Persian traditions. Although Farsi is an official language in modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, we will mainly look at work by 20th century Iranian poets such as Forough Farrokhzad, as well as contemporary Iranian-American poets like Kaveh Akbar and Solmaz Sharif, as these are most readily available in English.  

Throughout the course, readings will be accompanied by prompts based on ideas and forms explored in Persian poetry to inspire contemporary poets to learn from a tradition that spans more than two centuries and is filled with imaginative verse which, whether it was written in the 1200s or 2000s, still feels fresh today. 

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

Image Credit: Yasin Abbasi

About Natasha Hakimi Zapata View Profile

Natasha Hakami Zapata holds a Creative Writing MFA from Boston University. In 2016, Literal Publishing released bilingual editions of her translations of Alicia Borinsky’s collection My Husband’s Woman and Liliana Lukin’s collection Theater of Operations. Her work has received several awards, including a 2016 Los Angeles Press Club Award for her book review of the poetry collection I Am the Beggar of the World and May Merrill Miller Awards for Poetry in 2008 and 2010. She’s worked as an editorial assistant at AGNI and Los Angeles Magazine, as a visiting lecturer at Boston University, and is currently Senior Editor at Truthdig.

‘I return to Poetry School courses again and again because they are so accessible online. The tutors are published poets who prepare excellent resources and original prompts. You meet new people, share ideas and write more and better poems. There is always something different to explore and to learn.’

– Summer 2020 survey response

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