Ziba Karbassi

Ziba Karbassi was born in Tabriz, north western Iran. She has been writing poems from an early age. Her first book in Farsi was published in her early twenties. Since then she has published more than ten books, both in her mother tongue and internationally, and she is widely regarded as the leading Iranian poet of her generation. She has read poetry across Europe and America. She was chairperson of the Iranian Writers Association (in exile) from 2002 to 2004 and editor of Asar and Exiled Ink literature magazines in London. In 2009, she won the Golden Apple poetry prize in Azerbaijan. She was chair of Exiled Writers Ink in the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2014. Her poetry has been translated into more than ten languages. More than one hundred of the best critics and artists all over the world have written about her poetry. In 2012, she was chosen by Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, Birkbeck, University of London, as one of the fifteen revolutionary poets in the world. She has recently been chosen to be director of international relations for Pen International Iran in exile. She lives in the UK.

Spring 2008

– Translated from Farsi by Lara Popovic –

like a four season carpet in conversation
with a conical hat and a silver flute
like an opus of identification
with a floral patterned scarf
all the bravery from the time of Sattar
feels unsafe in the hour of the stroking room

Wilder than a tree
they have cut his head with
broken words
and the body which has lost its head
has become human;
russet, mute

I am falling from blue to green

Conflict knits on my trunk
I have fallen out of my roots
from end to end
my head is wounded from air
and air bleeds from my head

My addiction is this depth
that inhales me from inside;
from south to north

With nails trying to scratch
the grave I become
do not come

I know all your colours

and like this tree my fists are open to the sky
and my heart; that is my forehead

This Koran is not enough
to die for you
and this Koran is not enough
to make an oath

When the pain rolled down itself
from the stone
we heard the voice
of stone
and it broke

From the wall we heard
the wailing of the wall
and it collapsed
and my name became
the last letter of your

Love, love me; love sadness of you, Tabriz


your sadness pouring out;
your sadness of you, my dear
under my happy feet
the crane dances;
that explains

Time is not the time
only addiction to the time

The fish bowl gets a fever
and pours, lisping

When the wings of this butterfly
become two arms of the clock flower
the turquoise tiles
around this pond
become the witness of this red fish
that has reclaimed the heart from water
and bloated

The turquoise tiles around this pond
have also witnessed
this fish that took the heart
from the water

The water that is frozen
and polluted

is the full throat of unspoken words

We have brought out from the sky
the voice of the sky
and remained,

and human, like a human
to evil and to this body
says yes and becomes contaminated

Love me; love me, love sadness of you
that delivers deliverance
happier than laughter, bubblier
than a fizzy drink

I burst wine out of the urn
and like blood
point to your veins
me, my of me,
redder than heart
more heart full than God

Tabriz, Tabriz, your sadness
has poured out rivers of Lourdes
the pinkness of cherry
under breasts
through nape around
belly button

soft want-able sucking
even under my feet

pleasant heart murmurings

We are woman beating woman
beating, beating
and again
we beat


Note: Sattar Khan was a national hero from my home town Tabriz, who fought for the Constitutional revolution in Iran.