Poems

Six Green Polish Chairs

Notes

Iraj Ziayi has become known in Iran as the ‘Poet of Objects’ and he often uses the word ‘objects’ – we discussed whether ‘things’ might also work but Alireza Abiz observed that ‘things’ might imply abstractions whereas Ziayi is interested in the concrete. We all enjoyed the striking pictures created by this poem, and the way everyday objects are combined and recombined in ways that make them seem fresh and strange. In this poem there are three objects associated with an Iranian childhood: the pinwheel (a toy), the bicycle and the canary (a pet) and the way they are juxtaposed with natural phenomena to create a sense of the lurching perspectives of childhood was something we spent a lot of time discussing in our workshop (‘the year of star and pinwheel’). We also got very heated about the Polish chairs! A Polish chair is a very simple hardbacked chair and we did not know whether it would have this association to an English reader. In the end the granddaughter of a Lithuanian cabinet maker made such a strong case for honouring the Polish craftsmen we left them in. At first we thought this poem might be addressed to a lover, but gradually the sense of nostalgia and the reference to the skirt made us sway towards a mother being the addressee. After this the poem really seemed to gain focus. It is a haunting piece, full of longing for what is lost.

Clare Pollard, Workshop Facilitator

Iraj Ziayi has become known in Iran as the ‘Poet of Objects’ and he often uses the word ‘objects’ – we discussed whether ‘things’ might also work but Alireza Abiz observed that ‘things’ might imply abstractions whereas Ziayi is interested in the concrete. We all enjoyed the striking pictures created by this poem, and the way everyday objects are combined and recombined in ways that make them seem fresh and strange. In this poem there are three objects associated with an Iranian childhood: the pinwheel (a toy), the bicycle and the canary (a pet) and the way they are juxtaposed with natural phenomena to create a sense of the lurching perspectives of childhood was something we spent a lot of time discussing in our workshop (‘the year of star and pinwheel’). We also got very heated about the Polish chairs! A Polish chair is a very simple hardbacked chair and we did not know whether it would have this association to an English reader. In the end the granddaughter of a Lithuanian cabinet maker made such a strong case for honouring the Polish craftsmen we left them in. At first we thought this poem might be addressed to a lover, but gradually the sense of nostalgia and the reference to the skirt made us sway towards a mother being the addressee. After this the poem really seemed to gain focus. It is a haunting piece, full of longing for what is lost.

Clare Pollard, Workshop Facilitator

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