Maryam ala Amjadi

Born in Tehran (1984) and having spent the impressionable years of her childhood in India, Maryam Ala Amjadi is the author of two poetry collections Me, I and Myself (2003) and Gypsy Bullets (2010), and a poetry chapbook Without Metaphors (2017). Ala Amjadi received the ‘Young Generation Poet’ Award in the First International Poetry Festival in Yinchuan, China (2011) and was a writer-in-residence at the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, UNESCO City of Literature (2008). She was also the winner of the Silver Medal in the 14th National Persian Literature Olympiad (2001). Ala Amjadi has worked as a Farsi-to-English translator at the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) and was previously a writer for the Tehran Times Daily, where she founded and wrote a weekly page, dedicated to the representation of the nuances of Iranian culture and society for the English-reading world. In 2017, she earned a joint PhD degree in literary and cultural studies as an Erasmus Mundus fellow from the University of Kent (UK) and Universidade do Porto (Portugal). Ala Amjadi’s poems and translations of contemporary Iranian poets have been anthologized internationally and appeared in publications such as the Poet Lore, Atlanta Review, Weeping Willow Books, and The Mongrel Book of Voices. In July 2022, she participated in the 32nd International Poetry Festival of Medellín. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Albanian, Chinese, Hindi, Italian, Marathi, Romanian, and Spanish.

  • Where Is the Mouth of That Word?

    About the Book

    I breathed. I looked up. I saw her standing in the line of fire, “simply standing/on the last line of
    this page”, asking, as she looked me in the eye, “Where are you reading from?”

    And that, dear readers, who are about to encounter Maryam’s poems for the first time, is the
    You can Google her, you can hear her speak 1 , you can explore her intersecting engagements as an essayist, translator, and academic.
    But first, you can find her here, as I did, in a selection of her poems – from early to later, from the spoken word to the “vocal infection of the page”, from rant to reflection, plea to command.
    You could, in obeyance, “Turn the page, and leave!”
    You could be sentenced
    to an expired word:

    You could hear the tanin (echo) of Sepehri’s hich (nothingness) reverberating at the same frequency with which you see Dali’s ‘The Echo of the Void’ hovering in your line of vision.
    You could, and you will.
    For now, all that matters is knowing (asking!) where you read from.
    And as for the title we eventually chose – where is the mouth of that word?
    Wherever there is one – fearless enough to speak it.

    – Sampurna Chattarji