SF State’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies hosted a reading of the book, “Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and its Diaspora” via Zoom and YouTube livestream on Saturday. Essential Voices was the first event the center hosted in the Spring 2022 semester.
Over 60 people worldwide tuned into the hour-long event to enjoy Iranian and Iranian American poetry, much of which had been translated from Farsi to English.
Essential Voices, edited by Christopher Nelson and introduced by Kaveh Bassiri, is an anthology poetry book that features 130 poets and translators from over 10 countries. Seven poets from the anthology were in attendance to read their works, including Persis Karim, the director of SF State’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies.
Nelson is currently working to make the anthology a series. There will be at least one other book in the series, which is currently in the works.
“Essential Voices: Poetry of Iran and Its Diaspora is the first,” Nelson said. “We have just begun work on the second book in the Essential Voices series. It will be essentially queer voices of U.S. poetry. So probably two years, it’s hard to project exactly.”
The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies is the first educational center of its type and is committed to the research and teachings of the historical and cultural experiences of Iranians living outside of Iran. The program was made possible in 2017 with a monetary gift from Neda Nobari, an SF State alumna.
“We’re involved in promoting this emerging field of Iranian Diaspora studies, and we’re doing it by hosting speakers, conferences, symposia, and collaborating with other institutions,” Karim said.
The center hosts several events over the semester, but due to COVID, all previous in-person events had to be moved to online.
Despite the move from in-person to primarily online events, their turnouts have not been affected negatively. In fact, the transition to online has only improved turnout rates.
“We can invite people from all over the world,” Karim said. “So there is the advantage of doing things online, which is that you can engage with people who are not local and people who are not students.”
Parisa Mazarei — the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies’ assistant — said that the center is hopeful that events will soon transition back to in-person.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that by mid-March, when the Persian New Year hits, we could do something,” Mazarei said. “If it has to be Zoom then we’ll do it, but I do believe that they have something in mind for going back.”
The Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies will host several events over the course of the semester, which students can find on the SF State website and the center’s blog.