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Part of: World Poets’ Tour 2008 Poets in the Community: Farzaneh Khojandi at SOAS

Khalili Lecture Theatre
London

One of the highlights of the tour was a reading by Farzaneh Khojandi for the Iranian, Afghan and Tajik communities at SOAS. Farzaneh is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest living poets writing in Persian today, and her first visit to the UK as part of the WPT was greeted with great excitement by Persian speakers here.

The evening was organised and introduced by Farzaneh's translator, Narguess Farzad, Senior Lecturer in Persian Studies at SOAS. Farzaneh was joined by the British poet, Jo Shapcott, who read her translations alongside Farzaneh's poems in Persian. Farzaneh also read some of her new poems and answered questions from the audience.

In addition to Farzaneh's reading, the evening also featured songs by ‘Arzadash', Farzaneh's husband - who is himself a very famous musician and poet in Tajikistan - joined by his newly-assembled band. Their repertoire included traditional Tajik songs and ended with a new composition specially written by Arzadash for the occasion that celebrated the rain in London!

For non-Persian speakers this was a remarkably opportunity to gain an insight into the passion and dedication that Farzaneh's poetry inspires in her audience.

The event was supported by the Iran Heritage Foundation and the British Middle Eastern Society, whose mailing lists and membership brought in most of the audience. Approximately 90 enthusiastic people came to the event. The Poets in the Community programme is also supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Farzaneh and her translator, the British poet Jo Shapcott, have made a fascinating podcast for Guardian Online.