‘I am not talking about timorous whispering
In the dark.
I am talking about daytime and open windows
and fresh air and a stove in which useless things burn
and land which is fertile
with a different planting
and birth and evolution and pride.’
Extract from Forugh Farrokhzad, ‘Conquest of the Garden’, translated by Michael C. Hillman in A Lonely Woman: Forugh Farrokhzad and her Poetry (Mage Publishers, 1997), p. 96.

The event will open with a spoken word piece by sound artist Fari Bradley, combining images from paintings by Soheila Sokhanvari with poetry by feminist poet Forugh Farrokhzad (1934-1967). This piece was recently performed at the Edinburgh International Festival.

The performance will be followed by a short introduction to the influence of Forugh Farrokhzad on Iranian women artists by Katy Shahandeh and bilingual readings from a millennium of women poets writing in Farsi by Katy Shahandeh and members of Downing College’s English Society.

This will be followed by readings by Iranian-born poet Dr Mina Gorji.

The event will end with a conversation between Dr Mina Gorji and Soheila Sokhanvari about the experience of leaving Iran as children as a result of the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

About the participants

Fari Bradley (Artist, activist, and Ph.D. Candidate, Centre for Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP), University of the Arts, London) is an auto-didactic artist with a background in music and media. Bradley has shown in galler­ies, museums in the Levant, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Performances include South London Gallery, Venice Biennale, Beaconsfield Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum.

Katy Shahandeh (Artist and Ph.D. Candidate at Centre for Iranian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, London)is an Art Historian affiliated with SOAS, University of London. Her scholarly focus centres on contemporary Iranian women artists and the complexities of gender and identity in their works. Katy is also currently the President of SOAS Iranian Society.

Downing College English Society is a community of current and past Downing English students. The Society produces The Leaves, Downing College’s annual literary magazine.

Dr Mina Gorji (Poet and Associate Professor at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, andfellow of Pembroke College) is a poet whose debut, Art of Escape (Carcanet, 2020), was a Telegraph ‘Book of the Month’. Her poems were selected for the Forward Book of Poetry and Bloodaxe’s Staying Human anthology. She has also written a study of John Clare’s poetry, and essays on weeds, rudeness, little things and listening; a lyric-critical essay, ‘Listening for Stars’, was published in Poetry Review (2021).

Soheila Sokhanvari (Artist and activist) is a multimedia artist whose solo exhibition We Could Be Heroes… at The Heong Gallery is the occasion for this event. Her previous solo exhibition at the Barbican Curve, Rebel Rebel (2022), was seen by over 75,000 visitors and is opening in ARoS, Aarhus in January 2024.

Images: Detail from Soheila Sokhanvari, Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season (Portrait of Forough Farrokhzad), 2022.

Below: Photo (c) Ebrahim Golestan

Access statement:
The Howard Theatre is accessible via a lift (1st floor), and wheelchair-accessible toilet facilities are also available via a lift (Basement Level). In the theatre, there is padded seating, designated spaces for wheelchair users, and sufficient space for an assistance dog. There is a hearing loop facility available by request IN ADVANCE. Lighting levels will be low during the event. You are free to arrive, leave, stand up, lie down, or take a break at any time, without giving a reason.