Hafez “Made New”

Gardens of the World, Wine, Love, Wisdom & Ecstasy

It is apt for classics of non-native world literature to be “made new” for contemporary generations.*  Hafez is no exception. On a par with Basho, Cervantes, Emily Dickinson, Du Fu, Goethe, Homer, Pushkin, etc., he’s also in a class by himself ~ of Persian letters, at the apex. ** ‘Tho comparisons are odious, we might say that as Confucius is immortal in Chinese culture, so is Hafez in Iran. His art provides a window into the soul of contemporary everyday Iranian people.

As point of departure, we looked to adaptations (vignettes) by renowned filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (may his memory be a blessing). The book’s also influenced by Stephane Mallarmé’s 1897 transformation of the book by treating verso & recto as a single unit.  In other words, we make Hafez new.

We hope the book coheres as one, continuous medley, a Sufi journey, unfolding across five realms. It begins with the world ~ the world at hand. The reader might note how many of Hafez’s observations are apt today ~ a rebel saint, if you will ~ speaking truth to power when the spirit moves. Next we explore the realm of wine, with its initiation into something beyond this world. THen the worlds of love, with its yearnings for union, and of wisdom, where the mundane and the divine intertwine. A taste of ecstasy caps it all off.

Included is a profile of Hafez (with a specially commissioned map), an extensive glossary, in-depth translators’ notes, and a bibliography. The impeccable foreword is by Ari Honarvar, author of Rumi with a View, and the audio edition is perfectly narrated by Samara Naeymi. ( The future is feminine. )

More than just a new bottle for the ancient wine of Hafez, we hope his bones might live anew ~ that he may come alive and dance, and we with him. 

November 11, 2023

Press Release

Endorsements

Talking Points

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Audio Edition


A month after the paperback, Tantor Media released the audio edition, narrated by Samara Naeymi. Here’s what Erfan had to say:

It touched my soul. I like the way she reads the poems as one long whole poem. This is very close to what we had in mind when we selected and arranged the poems. As you well know, we followed the model of traditional Persian music in arranging the poems, and I was rather skeptical whether our method would reveal itself to the readers. Now, with the audio version, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the effort has paid off.

Listen to an audio sample here.

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Our first mention in media was by way of very nice recognition by Amanda Holmes (author of the novel I Know Where I Am When I’m Falling), in her On Poetry column for Washington Independent Review of Books. (September 23). Just prior, she’d read from Daniel Ladinsky’s renditions of Hafez, on her poetry podcast for American Scholar. A listener wrote a complaint. She did her homework, and unearthed not just a literary crime but one of cultural erasure. In a subsequent Read Me A Poem podcast, she read 3 selections from our edition, prefaced by her noble, brave, and trustworthy retraction ~ clarifying that the poetry which hundreds of thousands of English-speakers consider as being Hafez are what one might say “channeled” by Daniel Ladinsky. To dot an “i,” we confess that had his works not sold so well, we’d never have been asked to contribute Hafez to The Little Book series. Crazy twisted karma, or what!?

Interviews

Author2Author with Bill Kenower, Author magazine. The format is very simple: he invites one writer to join him in a lively back-&-forth about the books we write & the lives we lead & how these two are one & the same. 2/6/24

Hafiz: Mystical Poet of Persia ~ Inter View with clinical psychologist, parapsychologist, and veteran broadcaster Jeffrey Mishlove, New Thinking Allowed 11/20/23

Inter View with poet Julia Chiapella, Director Emeritus of the Young Writers Program., KSQD & The Hive Poetry Collective, 10/24/23

Bringing Inspiration to Earth, interview with Robert Sharpe 10/31/23

Tell Me More About the World, webinar with fellow panelists Chelsea Iversen & Mojgan Ghazirad, moderated by Dodie Ownes, presented by Brodart 10/4/23

Reviews

Sufism: an inquiry, issue XIX:4.

Amanda Holmes On Poetry Washington Independent Review of Books ~ 9/23

Mary Cowper in Midwest Book Review, MBR Bookwatch ~ 11/23

Reverend James Ishmael Ford, Hafez Day Patheos ~ 10/12/23

Readings / Webinars

Launch Event ~ Improvisations on Hafez ***

Kjell Nordeson, drums/percussion & Gary Gach, voice
One hour; begins at 7:04
Bird & Beckett Books & Records, 10/1/23

Webinar ~ Have You Met Hafez? East West Center 10/5/23
Lecture ~ Have You Met Hafiz? Introductions & Afterwords Center for Middle Eastern Studies UC Berkeley 4/22/24 [ presented here as a Google Doc, for questions, comments, criticism ] Video to follow

Extracts

Excerpt in Evergreen Review ~ The Iran Issue ~ edited by Porochista Khakpour
Excerpt in Kosmos – Journal for Global TransformationAgeless Spirit, Call To Action issue.


*

English-speakers have no need to retranslate Blake, Emily Dickinson, or Shakespeare (‘tho Shakespeare’s often performed in new settings).

** Since Persian philosophy and poetry are not two separate categories, it’s natural for the West to first know of Persian philosophy through poetry (Attar, Hafez, Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Sa’adi). Contrast this however with Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching: it is written as poetry, yet we shelve it under Philosophy/Spirituality/Eastern Relgion/Tao. God speaks to Job in poetry, yet we shelve the book in Religion. Rumi, on the other hand, is shelved under Poetry.


*** Erfan Mojib’s candid response to Improvisations on Hafez:

I think when a poem travels to a new language it has to survive a different set of rules. I don’t think your reading was bombastic or anything like that, but it was very different from what I had in mind, particularly because of the nature of the drums, which tend to have an epic rather than a romantic/gloomy aura. Hafiz poetry is usually sung with a gentle piece of music played by a flute, setar, or kamanche in the background. I’m not saying we have to stick to this Persian tradition, but you might want to listen to a few examples to get some ideas.

Here is a short one I particularly like – played by Keyhan Kalhor and sung by the late Sayeh