Parvaneh Bahar will talk about her father, her life, and her passion for freedom and human rights in Iran this Thursday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 pm in the Community Foundation Theater at Cinemapolis on Green Street in Ithaca, NY. On Saturday, November 10, Buffalo Street Books will host the author of The Poet’s Daughter: Malek o’Shoara Bahar of Iran and the Immortal Song of Freedom at 3 pm for a reading. This past Sunday I had the privilege of attending a private reception in Parvaneh Bahar’s honor at the Highland Lodge in Trumansburg, NY, hosted by George and Roxi Hewertson. Roxi Bahar Hewertson, the granddaughter of Malek o’Shoara Bahar, read aloud the english translations of poems Parvaneh read aloud in Persian. Amy Opperman and Paul Cash of Larson Publications were on hand for this crowded gala event.
Persian food covered the buffet tables; mounds of flatbreads, piles of goat cheese, fresh dill, basil tops, watercress, yoghurt, and pine nuts. Coffee tables and end tables with tiered pastry trays, candy dishes, and bowls of pistachios. A black-and-white photo poster of Malek o’Shoara Bahar and a color poster of the book cover flanked either side of the author’s book signing table. Dressed in an elegant black suit and as strikingly beautiful as the portrait of her as a young girl on the cover, Parvaneh addressed the audience and captivated their interest.
Parvaneh Bahar could not begin to explain why as a 23 year old diplomat’s wife living in Washington, D.C., she earned a college degree in English literature without her husband’s permission or knowledge, joined the civil rights protests and walked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and organized other women to form the National Women’s Political Caucus, without starting her story where it began with her father, Malek O’Shoara Bahar. As the daughter of this Persian poet and freedom fighter, Parvaneh Bahar introduced many in the audience to this Iranian champion of democracy. Bahar is revered internationally by progressive Iranians and celebrated as Iran’s best poet of the 20th century.
In his poetry and politics, Bahar’s critique brought imprisonment, exile, assassination attempts, and harsh reprisals from the Iranian government. Today his words are sung and chanted as anthems by street protesters. This story of two lives interwoven, father and daughter, in pursuit of democracy in Iran and America, is more timely than ever.