Sholeh Wolpé on Forugh Farrokhzad

“She refused to believe that being a girl limited her...”

Iranian poet and filmmaker FORUGH FARROKHZAD spoke the unspeakable, writing about her own sensual experiences at a time and in a place where she was reviled for it. After divorcing her husband, she lost the custody of her son and was shamed by her society. Ultimately, she prevailed, revered for her breath-taking work... but her life was cut short in mysterious circumstances. Today she is considered the most significant female poet of Iran. Sholeh Wolpé translates and illuminates this audacious artist.

Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Sholeh Wolpé

Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-American poet, playwright and librettist. Named a “2020-2021 Cultural Trailblazer” by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Wolpé is the recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize as well as artist fellowships and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia and Switzerland. Her most recent books include Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinth (Univ. of Arkansas Press), and The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton). Wolpé’s literary work numbers over twelve collections of poetry, books of translations, and anthologies, as well as several plays. She has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians nationally and internationally. Her translation of Forugh Farrokhzad’s work has been hailed as “lush” and “lucid.” Sholeh is presently the current Writer-in-Residence at UC Irvine. Wolpé’s translation, Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (University of Arkansas Press, 2010) won the prestigious Lois Roth Award. More information:

Featured Woman

Forugh Farrokhzad

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967) was an influential Iranian poet and film director. She was born in 1935 into a large family in Tehran. She married her much older cousin at age 16 and soon after had a son. Her first published poem, Sin, placed her at the center of controversy. Translator of her work, Sholeh Wolpé writes, “Forugh wrote with a sensuality and burgeoning political consciousness that pressed against the boundaries of what could be expressed by a woman in 1950s and 1960s Iran. She paid a high price for her art, shouldering the disapproval of society and her family, having her only child taken away, and spending time in mental institutions. She died in a car accident in 1967 at the age of thirty-two.”
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