Centre of the Universe


At first the literal translation of this poem seemed to need little work – it is very pared back, and for the main simply lists objects. But as we interrogated the lines we found a few things to tweak. ‘This light’ could refer to the dawn-light, when Iraj Ziayi is actually talking about mundane everyday items, so we changed it to ‘this lamp’ for clarity. It was also fascinating to hear Alireza Abiz talk about how ‘This tea pot’ was more likely a flask, as rented flats would have shared kitchens, and a writer would prepare a flask of tea to take to their room in the evening. ‘Centre of the Universe’ is also, he suspects, an allusion to Octavio Paz who claimed that the feeling of solitude is a kind of nostalgic longing for being ‘the center of the world, the navel of the universe’.

Clare Pollard - Poet Translator