Mahnaz Badihian (pen name: Oba) is an American poet. She is most noted for her use of poetry to bridge the gap between western and eastern cultures. She worked as a dentist for many years in Iowa City and often attended the Iowa Writers Workshop. She currently runs a multilingual (Persian, English, Italian) online magazine, Mahmag, as an outlet for new Iranian poets and for contemporary American poets.
Background and education
She had an early talent for writing and remembers when she was in fourth grade her teacher held a special meeting with her mother to tell of Badihian's advanced literary ability at only ten years of age. Badihian graduated from high school with a math degree from the prestigious girl's school Behesht Aeen. She went on to become valedictorian of her registered nurse degree and continued to receive bachelors of science in nursing education from Pahlavi University. She taught nursing at the University of Kermanshah. However throughout her nursing studies she continued to write and was editor of her nursing school's paper, Mehr. Badihian left Iran in 1979 with her husband who had received a scholarship to study at Johns Hopkins University. During this leave from Iran she studied to get a Master's in Sociology from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Then she went on to receive her D.D.S. from University of Iowa Dental School, where she became acquainted with the Iowa Writer's Workshop. In 2012 Mahnaz received her MFA in Poetry from Pacific University in Oregon.
Badihian is a poet and translator whose work has been published into several languages worldwide, including Persian, Turkish, Italian, and Malayalam. She attended the Iowa Writer's workshop with a focus on international poetry while practicing as a dentist in Iowa City. Her publications include two volumes of poetry in Persian and a best-selling translation of Pablo Neruda's Book of Questions into Persian. Her first English language book is a critically acclaimed book of original English language poetry, From Zayandeh Rud to the Mississippi. She has an awarding winning selection of poetry (XIV Premio Letterario Internazionale Trofeo Penna d’Autore, Tornio) translated into Italian by Cristina Contili and Pirooz Ebrahimi. Currently she resides in Northern California where she runs an online multilingual literary magazine, MahMag.org in an effort to bring the poetry of the world together. She presented a paper on erotic literature by Iranian women in the Diaspora at the American Comparative Literature Association's 2008 annual conference. In 2012 she completed an MFA in poetry from Pacific University. Her most recent publication is a bilingual volume of poetry edited with Jack Hirschman called Saplings Arise: Protest of the Pen, which presents poems from over 30 Iranian poets in Iran and in the Diaspora inspired by the 2009 uprisings. She is also an active member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade of San Francisco.
- Nafas-e Eshq Dar Daman-e Bad, Ketab Corp (Los Angeles, California), 1999.
- Pablo Neruda's Book of Questions : Translation into Persian, Simorgh Publishing (Mission Viego, California), 2000.
- Sedaye Robob Sherei Dasht, Simorgh Publishing (Mission Viego, California), 2004.
- Poesie Scelte Mahnaz Badihian, Edizioni Penna D'Autore (Torino, Italy), 2007. Translations by Pirooz A. Ebrahimi and Cristina Contilli.
- Saplings Arise: Protest of the Pen" CC Marimbo (Berkeley, CA), 2013. Translated by Mahnaz Badihian, Edited by Jack Hirschman.