Thursday, July 14, 2016

Islamic Institute Day 3 - Hafez, Rumi, Farrokhzad, Translating, and a Concert

Morning Lecture: Dr. Jawid Mojaddedi
Topic: Hafez & Rumi (Medieval Persian Poetry)
Interesting Things: 
  • In Persian, there is no distinction between masculine and feminine (which, again, raises some really interesting decisions for translators!)
  • "The Beloved" stands for both a love interest and for God in Islamic poetry.  Also, it is usually the Beloved who brings the wine, which represents a deep spirituality.
  • I also enjoyed this tale I came across.  (Part of me really wants to find a way to work it into an upcoming Sunday School lesson.  That is the part of me that gets me into trouble with authority figures.):  Rabia Basri, a Muslim saint/Sufi mystic, was once seen carrying a pot of fire in one hand and a bucket of water in the other.  She explained, "I want to put out the fires of Hell and burn down the rewards of Paradise.  They block the way to God.  I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simple for the love of God."

Afternoon Lecture:  Bushra Rehman
Topic: Forough Farrokhzad/Poetry Inside Out
Interesting Thing:  Bushra, a poet, writer, and teaching artist, introduced us to Farrokhzad's poetry.  She's a 20th century Iranian poet who writes really lovely imagery.  Here's an excerpt I like from her poem "Conquest of the Garden":

Everyone knows,
everyone knows
that you and I have seen the garden
from that cold sullen window
and that we have plucked the apple
from that playful, hard-to-reach branch.

Everyone is afraid
everyone is afraid, but you and I
joined with the lamp
and water and mirror and we were not afraid.

Bushra also lead us through an excellent activity where we worked in small groups to translate the poem from which the excerpt comes from Farsi to English.  We had a glossary to work from, and it prompted a lot of discussion about word choice, grammar, and imagery as we not only translated the poem, but also worked to find a way to "make it flow." My group's version of the same stanzas went:

Everyone knows.
Everyone knows
that you and I from that opening cold and grim
a garden we nurture.
And from that playful branch
an apple we pick.

Everyone is afraid.
Everyone is afraid but you and I.
Light, water, and mirror we joined,
and were not afraid.

Also tricky?  There's no punctuation in Farsi.

Special Event: Amir Vahab in concert performing Sufi songs at the Poets House.  Something like this:

The best part of the concert was the little girl in the apartment just above the Poets House.  She spent most of the concert dancing in the window to the music once she figured out that the audience below could see her.  Who knew that Beyonce's moves would fit Sufi music so well?

Adventure of the Day: Being woken at 6 AM by the maintenance crew pounding on our door because a water pipe burst outside my suitemate's window and flooded her room.  Like, an inch of water on the floor flooded.  My room, luckily, was unaffected.

Particularly Good Food of the Day: A BBLT from Murray's Cheese (that would be a burrata, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich that was surely not at all healthy.  Which means it was also ridiculously delicious.)

Photo of the Day: An outdoor concert in the rain?  Thank goodness I always carry my Mackintosh square!

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