26 March 2017
Standing on Earth by Mohsen Emadi (translated by Lyn Coffin)
In his poems of memory and displacement, Iranian poet Mohsen Emadi charts his experience of exile with vivid, often haunting, imagery and a child's love of language. Lyn Coffin's translations from the Persian allow Emadi's poems to inhabit the English language as their own, as the poet recasts his earliest memories and deepest loves over the forges of being "someone who goes to bed in one city and wakes up in another city." Alternating between acceptance and despair, tenderness and toughness, he writes, "I wanted to be a physicist," but "Your kisses made me a poet." Mohsen Emadi is a powerful witness to life in the present times, and Standing on Earth introduces a major world poet to an English-language readership for the first time.
Standing on Earth is a beautifully written and translated collection of poems centered on loss and displacement. While you could read "the lover" invoked throughout as an actual person - and may, in some instances, be referencing someone specific - I feel like the poet means to reference country and culture. The speaker has been forcibly removed from his culture and so mourns it like a lost lover. Lyn Coffin's translation is excellent.
Read for the 2017 Read Harder challenge.
Dear FTC: I bought my copy of this book.