Simin Behbahani

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Simin Behbahani
سیمین بهبهانی
سیمین بهبهانی - Simin Behbahani.jpg
Simin Behbahani
Born Simin Khalili
سیمین خلیلی

(1927-06-20) 20 June 1927 (age 87)
Tehran, Iran
Nationality Iranian
Occupation Poet, writer
Spouse(s) Hassan Behbahani (1946–1970, divorced)
Manouchehr Koshyar (1971–2002, his death)
Children 1
Parents Abbas Khalili (Father)
Fakhr-e Ozma Arghun (Mother)

Simin Beh'bahāni[1] (Persian: سیمین بهبهانی‎) (born 20 June 1927 in Tehran, Iran) is one of the most prominent figures of the modern Persian literature and one of the most outstanding amongst the contemporary Persian poets. She is Iran's national poet and an icon of the Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the lioness of Iran.[2] She has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and has "received many literary accolades around the world."[3]

Early life and careers[edit]

Simin Behbahani, whose real name is Simin Khalili[4] (سيمين خليلی), is the daughter of Abbās Khalili (عباس خلیلی), poet, writer and Editor of the Eghdām (Action) newspaper,[5] and Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (فخرعظمی ارغون), poet and teacher of the French language.[6] Abbās Khalili (1893–1971) wrote poetry in both Persian and Arabic and translated some 1100 verses of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh into Arabic.[7] Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (1898–1966) was one of the progressive women of her time and a member of Kānun-e Nesvān-e Vatan'khāh (Association of Patriotic Women) between 1925 and 1929. In addition to her membership of Hezb-e Democrāt (Democratic Party) and Kānun-e Zanān (Women's Association), she was for a time (1932) Editor of the Āyandeh-ye Iran (Future of Iran) newspaper. She taught French at the secondary schools Nāmus, Dār ol-Mo'allemāt and No'bāvegān in Tehran.[8]

Simin Behbahani started writing poetry at twelve and published her first poem at the age of fourteen. She used the "Char Pareh" style of Nima Yooshij and subsequently turned to ghazal. Behbahani contributed to a historic development by adding theatrical subjects and daily events and conversations to poetry using the ghazal style of poetry. She has expanded the range of the traditional Persian verse forms and has produced some of the most significant works of the Persian literature in 20th century.

She is President of The Iranian Writers' Association and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999 and 2002.

In early March 2010 she was refused permission to leave the country. As she was about to board a plane to Paris, police detained her and interrogated her "all night long". She was released but without her passport. Her English translator (Farzaneh Milani) expressed surprise at the arrest as detention as Behbahani is 82 and nearly blind. "We all thought that she was untouchable."[3]


  • The Broken Lute [Seh-tar-e Shekasteh, 1951]
  • Footprint [Ja-ye Pa, 1954]
  • Chandelier [Chelcheragh, 1955]
  • Marble [Marmar 1961]
  • Resurrection [Rastakhiz, 1971]
  • A Line of Speed and Fire [Khatti ze Sor'at va Atash, 1980]
  • Arzhan Plain [Dasht-e Arzhan, 1983]
  • Paper Dress [Kaghazin Jameh, 1992]
  • A Window of freedom [Yek Daricheh Azadi, 1995]
  • Collected Poems [Tehran 2003]
  • Maybe It's the Messiah [Shayad ke Masihast, Tehran 2003] Selected Poems, translated by Ismail Salami
  • A Cup of Sin, Selected poems, translated by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa

Awards and honours[edit]

Board of Governors of Association of Patriotic Women, Tehran, 1922
  • 1998 Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammet Grant
  • 1999 Carl von Ossietzky Medal
  • 2006 Norwegian Authors' Union Freedom of Expression Prize
  • 2009 mtvU Poet Laureate[9]
  • 2013 Janus Pannonius Poetry Prize[10]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Simin (سیمین) is the Persian word for Silvery, Lustrous or Fair, and Behbahani (بهبهانی), From Behbahan, refers to the people of Behbahan, a city in the Khuzestan Province of Iran.
  2. ^ Fatemeh Keshavarz, Banishing the Ghosts of Iran, The Chronicle Review of Higher Education, Vol. 53, No. 45, p. B6 (13 July 2007). [1]
  3. ^ a b Tehran Halts Travel By Poet Called 'Lioness Of Iran' by Mike Shuster, NPR, 17 March 2010
  4. ^ Behbahani is the last name of her first husband [2].
  5. ^ Abbās Khalili, Persian Wikipedia.
  6. ^ Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun, Persian Wikipedia.
  7. ^ Abbās Khalili, ibid.
  8. ^ Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun, ibid.
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ Annamária Apró (26 September 2013). "Janus Pannonius Prize goes to Simin Behbahani". Hungarian Literature Online. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 

External links[edit]