By Shahram Sheydayi (Author)
Amy Grupp and Ramin Takloo-Bighash (Translator)
Paperback: 191 pages
Publisher: Kalagh-e Sefid; 2nd edition (2017)
Shahram Sheydayi (1967-2009) was one of the strongest Iranian poets of this generation. Despite his prominence in Iran, however, he remains completely unknown outside of Iran, especially in English. As a result, no book of his has ever been translated to any other language. A possible explanation for this obscurity may be that his poetry does not conform to standard Western expectations of Persian/Iranian poetry. His poetry is not the poetry of love, wine, and rose gardens. His poetry is non-lyrical, nightmarish, and entirely devoid of love, hope, divinity, and human warmth; his open fields are trash dumpsters infested with children scavengers, and his seas have bodies floating in them. Sheydayi's poetry represents the worldview of the Iranian youth, and it has become the voice of a generation of desperate, hopeless, disoriented, faceless individuals that believes in nothing other than its dark unknown destiny. Laughing in the Burning House is in some ways based on the events of Sheydayi's life, though the poems transcend the life of any one individual. This book is a study of human suffering in a global sense. It explores arrest, imprisonment, loneliness, interrogation, betrayal, torture, execution, the death of cell-mates and friends, and the complete absence of hope at a very personal level. Then it expands its focus to incorporate larger human catastrophes like the World Wars and the Holocaust. Finally it returns to the personal, addressing the way we understand and remember human suffering, be it ours or others'. This bilingual Persian-English edition introduces Sheydayi's exceptional poetry to the Western world.