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The Word by Reza Mohammadi

Featuring: Reza Mohammadi, Hamid Kabir, Nick Laird

I was never convinced I was fully ‘getting' the poetry - but it became slightly easier to live with that mystification when I asked Reza to read a poem or two, in Dari, there in the office.

It was, initially, mildly awkward, but that soon faded as Reza got going. He's a great reader of his work, and it turned out it was deeply beneficial to the whole process to hear how he read. Once he began speaking, I realized I could learn a great deal just from the tone in which he read. It was almost irrelevant that I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I got the tone, the style, the import. He read in this unembarrassed, enthralled, rather grand voice, and if that was how the poet read them, that was also how they were written. Reza reads like he's a channel for something greater than himself, and I realized that rather than trying to tame or domesticate his poems into western ideas of order or neatness, I should just try to present them in a language that did its best to allow their strength and power to come through. I aimed to keep the strangeness in them that I experienced on encountering them, and decided to worry less about technique and more about voice.

From Nick Laird on Translating Reza Mohammadi

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