‘Poet of Tehran’, Mohammad-Ali Sepanlu dies at 75

May 13, 2015

TEHRAN -- Iranian poet and translator Mohammad-Ali Sepanlu, who was dubbed as ‘the poet of Tehran’ due to the frequent references that he made to the city in his works, died at Tehran’s Sajjad Hospital on Monday night. He was 75.

Sepanlu, who had been suffering from lung cancer for several years, was hospitalized for respiratory problems last week, his close friend, Mehdi Okhovvat, told the Persian media.

Born in Tehran, Sepanlu studied law at the University of Tehran. However, he chose to become a poet.

He observed father of Iranian blank verse poetry Nima Yushij’s style in his works and the stories in his poems were mostly set in modern urban places.

In his books and articles, he tried to introduce modern advanced Persian literature. He was the author of “The Avant-garde Writers of Iran”, in which he surveyed a number of writers and their exemplary stories.

Sepanlu was the first Iranian poet to compose a poem in support of the Palestinian people.

He always felt a certain pride in his poem entitled “Arab Guerrilla” that he published in solidarity with Palestinians shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967.

“The Iranian intellectuals didn’t care about the Palestine issue under [Mohammad Reza] Shah,” Sepanlu said once in an interview.

“I raised the poem as a flag in support of Palestine in a period of time when the Shah’s regime fully backed Israel,” he added.

“Invasion”, “I Take My Homeland’s Pulse”, “Lady Time”, “Exiled in Homeland”, “The Hope Hour”, “Streets, Deserts”, “Autumn on the Highway”, “The Explorer of the Forgotten” and “Sailing across Tehran” are some of his poetry collections.

He also pursued a career in translation. Several prominent European writers’ works, including Jean-Paul Sartre’s “The Childhood of a Boss”, Graham Greene’s “The Comedians” and Albert Camus’ “The Just Assassins” were rendered into Persian by Sepanlu.

His translation of American author Horace McCoy’s novel “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” was published last week in Tehran.

He also tried his hand at cinema by playing a cameo role in director Dariush Mehrjuii’s “The Cow”, Nasser Taqvaii’s “Tranquility in the Presence of Others”, Ali Hatami’s “Sattar Khan”, Masud Kimiaii’s “Qeisar” Amir Qavidel’s “Rokhsareh” and several other movies.

Photo: Mohammad-Ali Sepanlu attends a screening “Sailing across Tehran”, a documentary directed by Salaheddian Karimzadeh about the life story of the poet, at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on November 19, 2013. (IAF/Leila Ebrahimi)

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