Maryam Ala Amjadi
    Born in 1984 in Tehran, Maryam Ala Amjadi is a young poet, translator and essayist who spent the early impressionable years of her life in India. Her first book of poems Me, I and Myself, a bilingual edition with Farsi translation, was published by Tehran Seda Publications in 2003. Ala Amjadi was the winner of the Silver Medal in the 14th National Persian Literature Olympiad (2001) and was awarded Honorary Fellowship in Creative Writing by the International Writers Program (IWP) at University of Iowa, U.S.A in 2008. She has also won the Second Prize (on Gender issues in Translation) in the A.K Ramanujan National Paper Reading Competition, University of Baroda, India (January 2009). Her translation of the American poet, Raymond Carver's poetry entitled, Fear of Arriving Early (Aknoon Publications, Tehran 2009) is now available to the Farsi reading world. A Member of Young Scholars Club in Tehran and World Poets Society (W.P.S) she has also previously worked as a Persian-English News Interpreter at the Iranian News Agency (ISNA). She holds a B.A in English Literature from Allameh Tabatabei University of Philosophy and Foreign Languages (2006) and has recently completed her M.A in English Literature at the University of Pune, India. Ala Amjadi’s second book of poems, Gypsy Bullets was published by Prafullata Publications (India) in January 2010. Her poems, essays and translations are available on Kritya, Muse India, Thanal Online, Literature Northeast, and the Interpoetry Journal.

    From nowhere
    this house is three cigarettes away

    They can always sniff it out
    from the oil, the fathers don’t bring
    and the combats of combs that never run

    Short of the sun,
    the women’s hair never grows long
    And their wombs
    are wrinkled balloons
    that have never soared for sour grapes

    So with all the eggs on our faces
    we have deadpan omelets for breakfast
    and eat our hearts out of our mouths

    Then we creep in to lull our dreamful beds
    Heads that sleep around don’t mind wakeful tales

    In this house
    the windows are doors-
    that push faith to fate

    and the doors are windows-
    as they close on ceilings that floor walls

    When owls hoot
    We hiss hello to hand down dreams

    we gamble goodbye with goats
    that bleat escape to front doors

    The women draped in curtains
    that sift the suns of their faces
    always talk of here
    that is heard as there

    And these bricks have rats
    that are never prey to ravens
    but gnaw word by word
    at our inhuman prayer
    to humanize scarecrows

    In this house
    we hide what we seek
    and try to find our loss
    tip-toeing on our hands
    in our tongue tied shoes

    Until the telephone rings a bell
    and we know that wireworms
    have fished another voice into sounds

    And so we saw
    what we see
    and the sea
    in the same boat with us

    Yet we breathe in theirs
    and brood on mines that explode
    into minute seeds
    but never hatch into hours
    for the second
    one of us turns their back
    first fingers read the last words
    in Braille:

    From nowhere
    this house is three cigarettes away.