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At Home with Aida Shamlou

The late leading Iranian poet, Ahmad Shamlou, and his wife, Aida, lived and worked together for 40 years.
Aida is now working on Shamlou's unfinished works, publishing them and preserving his legacy. In an exclusive interview with Jadid Online, she tells the story of their love and partnership in life.


Aida Shamlou

In all the 40 years we lived together, our work was inseparable from our lives. We lived our lives along with work and music. Difficulties and worries just added to our enthusiasm, and our common goal helped us to survive our misfortune through perseverance.

We first met in the spring of 1341 [1962]. He wrote me poems in his beautiful handwriting, and I would put them in a small inlaid wooden box. We moved in to live in the same house from 1343 [1964].

I eagerly and lovingly kept anything that had any sign of Ahmad about it. Gradually, in this way, it made a complete archive, and with the generous zeal of his enthusiasts and poets, is bearing ever more fruit: all the poems for him, all the recitals of his poetry and putting it to music, in the form of calligraphy, into graphics, posters and photographs- together with all the art given to us is added to this archive.

So our home, with the help of kind friends and with the generosity and eagerness of young people, has blossomed and borne fruit and has now become ‘House of Bamdad’ [Bamdad meaning Dawn is Shamlou’s pen name].

In the difficult years, his perseverance in the isolation, his pain deep in his heart and also his physical body were apparent to me, and I suffered through it with him. I could see, even with all his suffering and pain, he was relentless in his efforts to leave no door or path untried, in his quest to express himself.

Sometimes, I was like a colleague, assisting his work. He would dictate and I would type, we proofread and edited the manuscripts, we would make notes of any phrases and expressions we picked up from conversations and from reading for the book ‘The Book of the Alley’. Gradually this cooperation took a more serious and permanent form and could continue. Now, as Shamlou has laid this charge upon us, we are trying to continue the work in a way befitting him.

As for the last few years, one can always mention the compilation and publishing of a memorial work in honour of ‘Bamdad’, repaying the debt to his admirers who had written about him from the depths of their hearts.

Also three of his previously unpublished translations have been published now: The Epic of Gilgamesh (new edition), Three Plays from Lorca (in one volume) and And Quiet Flows the Don, and it was with the finishing of those books that he also approached his own end.  

Three compilations of Shamlou’s work have been published: the first is a collection of his poems, which is to be reprinted without printing mistakes and in a better quality and size, the second is ‘Like an Endless Street’, a translation of a selection of poems from great poets of the world’ and the third is ‘A Translation of Short Stories and Yarns’, which has short stories from various writers translated in the past and printed in various publications or anthologies.

Other books in the process of compilation now are: Descriptive Review of the Works of Ahmad Shamlou including a descriptive list of his works and the works of others about him, a book of his speeches and a book of his articles.

Also a collection of five tapes and CDs of poems and the voice of Shamlou, recorded in 1373 [1994], were released in 1383 [2004]. Shamlou’s website, www.shamlou.org , was set up in 1369 [1990] with the help and support of our friends. We are striving to increase its usefulness.

We, the admirers of Shamlou, have kept our promise with each other to meet every year on the 21st of Azar [Dec. 12th] in memory of his birthday and we bring the creativity of various artists with us.

With gratitude and in recognition of our friends and colleagues who have been my support and together with in these last few years.



Esfand 1386 [March 08]

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