In the aftermath of World War II, "a new dynamism" was taking shape in Persian poetry. Award-winning translator Niloufar Talebi explains how Iranian poets were increasingly instrumental in "freeing Persian poetry from the state of decline and stagnation." Into this backdrop emerges the poet Ahmad Shamlou in this part-memoir, part-biography, and part-history of literature in Iran. "There are two books in this book, one portrait of me and one of Ahmad Shamlou. And they intersect," Talebi writes of Self-Portrait in Bloom. Released in the 40th anniversary year of the Iranian revolution, it delves deep into culture, personal history, and pays homage to Tehran, the city of Talebi's childhood. Told in fragments of prose, poetry, and photographs, this lyrical exploration reimagines the memoir form and in a dramatic climax sets free the details of a hurt that can no longer limit the blossoming of an artist.
"Self-Portrait in Bloom recounts the stories of poets, revolutions, women, and censorship. A celebration of the recreative power of memory and language, from the girl standing in front of her blue bedroom window watching snow, to the many lessons of silence--Talebi's "animal with two faces." It is a book of longing, haunted by history."-- Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa
"Niloufar Talebi offers a lyrical evocation of an Iranian childhood, of a girl growing into complicated maturity as an artist while bringing to life the great Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou, whose art became intertwined with her own. For these achievements alone, her book would be well worth reading. But Talebi is after bigger game. Step by step, she lures us into a profound meditation on the power of poetry, the politics of language, and the art of translation--and then into the shocking spectacle of an artist stifled. This memoir is not just poignant, it's wrenching." -- Tamim Ansary, author of West of Kabul, East of New York, and Games Without Rules
"A brutally honest memoir of a life built by words, destroyed by words, rebuilt by words." --Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling Author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without An Accent.
"Niloufar Talebi has written an original and intriguing memoir. Dispensing with linearity, shuttling between her Iranian childhood and her American coming of age, she moves nimbly up and back along the space-time axis. A loving and contemplative spirit compels these pages forward." --Sven Birkerts, author of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age
"Niloufar Talebi's superb translations of Shamlou's poetry convey a deep mastery and love of the immortal poet's texts, and are a major contribution in presenting Shamlou's literary greatness for Western readers. These translations are a work of love."--Nahid Mozaffari, editor, Strange Times My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature