the introduction to his tenth and last collection of poems, Earth
and Time (Zamin va Zaman),
come from “Heaven” and remain alien on “Earth”; instead of
“place” they deal with “nature” and instead of
“time” they deal with “history.”
poet who leaves his country and migrates to an alien land talks about his new
home in terms of his original homeland. With
his words he pictures the nature of his homeland, and instead of speaking of the
“past” or the “future,” he links “history” with “eternity.” . .
an exiled poet the images of his homeland will always stay alive, but the
homeland’s history, as well as its present, will be (for him) “eternity.”
A nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature and a 1993 recipient of the Human Rights Watch Organization’s Hellman-Hammett Grant (awarded to writers in exile whose works are banned in their own homelands), Nader Naderpour was born on June 6, 1929, in Tehran, Iran. The oldest of two brothers and three sisters, Naderpour had artistically inclined and culturally rich parents. His father, who died when Nader was only fourteen, was a skillful painter and a literary man. He taught young Nader Persian literature, especially classic poetry. By the age of thirteen Naderpour had read the great classical Persian poems, and journals of the time published his classical-style poetry. His mother was an accomplished player of the tar (an Iranian string instrument), and she helped Nader develop an appreciation for music.
primary education in Tehran included art appreciation, music, and French, and he
entered Iranshahr High School in 1942. A year later, in the aftermath of the
Allied occupation of Iran, Naderpour, like many other high school students of
the time, became involved in politics. He
participated in a small nationalist party group. Later, he joined the Tudeh
Youth Organization, part of the Tudeh Party of Iran, which became Iran’s major
Communist party. By the time Naderpour was graduated from high school in 1948,
he had already left the Tudeh Party.
young Naderpour was despondent over the 1946 Azerbaijan crisis.
Like many other nationalist intellectuals, he was convinced that Soviet
Communism did not make provisions for independent nationalist communist
movements in other countries. Subsequently, Naderpour supported efforts to
ensure that Iran’s sixteenth parliamentary elections would be open and fair;
he was sympathetic to Mohammad Mosadegh and other nationalist victors in those
1950 Naderpour attended the Sorbonne University, where he studied French
literature. While in Paris, he became a freelance writer for various
publications. He also wrote for the
Third Force Party, which Kkalil Maleki had established within the umbrella of
the National Front Organization in Iran. After receiving his baccalaureate
degree, Naderpour returned to Tehran and started working in the private sector.
1954 Naderpour published his first volume of poems, Eyes
and Hands (“Chashmha va Sasthayash”), which by the late 1970s enjoyed
more than five printings. One year later Naderpour’s second collection of
poems was published, Daughter of the Cup
(“Dokhtare Jame”), which by the late 1970s enjoyed through three subsequent
printings. And in 1958 his third collection of poems, The Grape Poem (“Shere Angour”), was published by Sokhan, whose
editor, Dr. Natel Khanlari, commented: “The poems appearing in this collection
are some of the very best poems in the modernist school.”
1960 Collyrium of the Sun (“Sormahe
Khorshid”), Naderpour’s fourth collection of poems, was published, which
included several poems that allude to Naderpour’s first marriage (in 1957 to
Shahla Hirbod, whom he had met the year before). In August 1959 he composed a
beautiful poem called “Iris,”
which he dedicated to their only daughter, “Poupak,” who was born that
month. Naderpour and Shahla were
separated in 1961.
in 1960 Naderpour arranged the first modernist Persian poetry reading in Tehran,
held at the Iran-America Society. Later, he worked as a consultant at the Office
of Dramatic Arts of the Ministry of Arts and Culture. He was named editor of Namayesh
magazine, and he worked on one issue of another magazine,
Naghsh va Nehag.
1964 Naderpour traveled to Europe. In
Rome and in Perugia he continued his studies of the Italian language and Italian
literature. He also spent time in Paris, studying French literature and French
cinema, and devoting time to his own poetry.
Naderpour was one of the thirty or so founding members of the first Association
of Writers of Iran in 1968 (1346) and one of its Manifesto’s signatories,
along with several other distinguished Iranian writers and poets. When Jalal
Al-e Ahmad, the driving force behind the Association,
died in 1969, the Association chose Naderpour to speak on its behalf at the
interment ceremony. For two consecutive years Naderpour was elected a member of
the steering committee for the Association of Writers of Iran. Later on, in
1977, he decided not to participate in the rejuvenation of the Association of
Writers of Iran due to differences of opinion and Naderpour’s preference for
the loner’s role.
1971 he became the director of "Goroohe Adabe Emrooz" on Iranian
National Radio and Television (INRT). He directed many programs on the lives and
works of the most respected and accomplished contemporary poets, writers, and
artists. His work contributed greatly to introducing contemporary world
literature to Iranians. In the opinion of Dr. Mohammad Hossain Mostafavi, one of
Naderpour’s closest friends (as well as his co-worker on the INRT’s "Goroohe
Adabe Emrooz" from the beginning), the seven years Naderpour worked on the
program were some of the best and happiest years of Naderpour’s life in Iran.
1978 Naderpour published three new volumes simultaneously: Not
Plant and Stone, But Fire (“Giyah va Sang na, Atash”), From
the Sublime to the Ridiculous (“Az Aseman ta Risman”), and The
Last Supper (“Shame Baz Pasin”). To explain the delay in publishing,
Naderpour claimed that most of the poems in these collections had been published
year after the 1979 Islamic revolution Naderpour moved to Paris, preferring
self-imposed exile in an alien land to a forced exile in his homeland. He left
Iran carrying a single suitcase of clothing, copies of his books, and a partial
manuscript for a new collection of poems.
in Paris he joined the National Resistance Movement, headed by Shahpour
Bakhtiyar (the last Prime Minister under Iran’s constitutional monarchy before
the revolution). In 1982 the National Resistance Movement published
Naderpour’s False Dawn (“Sobhe
Doroughin”), which includes his works from the spring of 1978 through the fall
the introduction to False Dawn,
and half years ago when the first steps and fists made Iran’s earth and sky
start trembling, a feeling told me to be scared of the unawareness of these
excited people. My feeling was not in disagreement with those shaking their
fists in fighting against the corruption, but it did not prefer expelling of
corrupt to a more corrupt. It was seeing that those fascinated people, thanks to
their good faith, were following an old-fashioned tradition blindfolded—the
faith that all the Iranian freethinkers from Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Hafez, till Iraj,
Dehkhoda, and Hedayat in different eras followed in their fighting.
saw that those fascinated people have been childishly following a lie and a
power-hungry faith: the mentality that all the great constitutional thinkers
such as Akhond Zadeh, Talebofe Tabrizi, Mirza Agha Khan Kermani, and Mirza
Jahangir Khan Shirazi called the enemy of progress and did their best to
saw that behind those masses and their fists, side by side with the political
struggle, a cultural fight has begun: a fight between “tradition” with
“unorthodoxy” and “prejudice” with “progress.”
was such, that my awakened feeling was seeing the terrible future in that
uneducated revolution, and with the passage of time has shown that he was right.
. . .
awakened feeling did not claim divination. … But knowing the past helped
understand the news of the future But the help of knowing the past it was giving
news about the future. . . .
While living in exile in Paris, Naderpour met Jaleh Bassiri, whom he had known from Iran in the 1970s and in September of 1984 they married. His marriage naturally rejuvenated life in exile; indeed, Jaleh inspired him with a new attitude toward life, both spiritually and socially. For seventeen years Jaleh was truly more than a wife to Naderpour: She was Best Friend, full-time Editor, Partner, and Companion to Naderpour during his toughest years in exile. In appreciation, Naderpour dedicated many of his poems to Jaleh, including his last poem, “Conversation in the Dark” (composed in December 1999), and his entire last collection (which he inscribed “To my dearest: Jaleh and Poupak”). After Naderpour’s death, Jaleh established The Naderpour Foundation in Los Angeles to preserve Naderpour’s memory and appreciate his work.
his exile in Paris, Naderpour was awarded honorable membership in the French
Authors’ Association and lectured at several conferences while living in
Paris. He lived in Paris until 1986, when he
moved to the United States, eventually settling in Los Angeles. He was invited
to participate in the Iranian Cultural Foundation in Boston. A popular speaker,
he lectured at Harvard University, Georgetown University, University of
California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University
of California, Irvine (UCI), and many other American universities.
more than 14 years Naderpour’s classes at UCLA and UCI were the meeting place
for many Iranian professionals interested in Iranian literature, history,
culture, mysticism, politics, etc. Naderpour was a living encyclopædia of
Iran’s recent history. His wealth of life experience in Iran’s recent
history, his detailed objective analysis, his unique style of expression, and
his keen vision contributed to his extremely interesting and comprehensive
is also well known for his extensive research on Iran’s contemporary poetry
and for his thorough, insightful analyses of many Iranian poets (Hafez, Ferdosi,
Khayyam, Molavi, and others). In
addition, he is recognized for his perceptive commentaries on Iran’s recent
history and his astute observations on Iranians’ cultural and political
challenges. Fortunately, many of his
lectures are captured in more than 300 hours of audiotapes and videotapes, an
invaluable collection for Iranians all over the world and for generations to
many reasons, Nader Naderpour became a very special and unique celebrity among
many Iranians living in the West, among them:
Naderpour ’s keen observations are legendary.
One of his most important insights concerned events in Iran in 1997.
April 1997 a German court was able to prove the IRI’s direct involvement and
responsibility in the murder of Iran’s dissident Kurdish leaders in 1992 and
thus convict Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, President
Rafsanjani, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and Information and Security
Minister Ali Fallahian. The conviction was the result of superb cooperation and
teamwork among all the Iranian opposition forces, allowing the German court to
gather all the needed documents and necessary evidence. The court’s ruling led
the E.U. nations, all 15 countries, to withdraw their ambassadors from Tehran on
April 11, 1997.
afterward, on April 15, Japan suspended its high-level dialogue with Iran. By
April 15, 1997, the Islamic Republic of Iran became completely isolated from the
Western world. The same countries that were supporting the IRI in every possible
way ended up suspending their political ties with the IRI due to the pressure of
IRI needed to present a completely different image in order to rebuild its badly
damaged relationships with its European trade allies. That’s when the idea of
the moderate movement as a vehicle to save the IRI from this blow was suddenly
created and Mr. Khatami’s so-called “moderate government” was born.
was the first Iranian intellectual who identified the Islamic government
reformist movements as a game, a political maneuver intended to extend the
Islamic government’s life. In his famous article “Khomeini on the Moon and
Khatami on a Satellite” (published in Kayhan
in London) he called the reformist movement and its leader Mr. Khatami another
lie for Iran and Iranians. In the same article he also expressed his extreme
disappointment for those Iranian leftists living in the West who became
reformist supporters almost overnight.
almost four years later, many Iranian writers and political activists such as
Daryoosh and Parvaneh Forouhar have been brutally murdered during Khatami’s
regime. Today, even some Islamic government officials have admitted to and have
publicly discussed Iran’s deteriorated condition!
Now, finally, more and more Iranians respect Naderpour’s pointed vision
and his accurate judgment.
published a large number of scholarly papers on Iran’s politics, culture,
history, and literature in publications such as Iranshenasi, Mehregan, and
Rahavard. He published many individual poems in various Iranian
publications, including ten collections of poetry.
Islamic Republic of Iran banned the publication of all Naderpour’s work in
Iran; distribution of his work in Iran is illegal.
Hillman Hamet prize (awarded to writers in exile whose works are banned in their
own homeland) was bestowed upon Nader Naderpour by the Human Rights Watch
Organization in 1993 (1371).
Nader Naderpour died in his Los Angeles home on Friday, February 18, 2000, at 11:00 a.m.
Visitors to the Los Angeles area often pay their respects to Nader Naderpour, one of Iran's greatest contemporary poets and thinkers, by visiting his gravesite at Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (1218 Glendon Avenue).