Forugh Farrokhzad فروغ فرخزاد
(December 29, 1934 – February 13, 1967) was an influential Iranian poet and film director. She was a controversial modernist poet and an iconoclast, writing from a female point of view.
Forugh (also spelled Forough) was born in Tehran to career military officer Colonel Mohammad Bagher Farrokhzad (originally from Tafresh city) and his wife Touran Vaziri-Tabar in 1935. The third of seven children (Amir, Massoud, Mehrdad, Fereydoun Farrokhzad, Pooran Farrokhzad, Gloria), she attended school until the ninth grade, then was taught painting and sewing at a girls’ school for the manual arts. At age sixteen she was married to Parviz Shapour, a satirist. Farrokhzad continued her education with classes in painting and sewing and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. A year later, she bore her only child, a son named Kamyar Shapour (subject of A Poem for You).
Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; Parviz won custody of the child. She moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955.
Farrokhzad, a female divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. In 1958 she spent nine months in Europe. After returning to Iran, in search of a job she met film-maker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film titled The House is Black won several international awards. During the twelve days of shooting, she became attached to Hossein Mansouri, the child of two lepers. She adopted the boy and brought him to live at her mother’s house.
In 1964 she published Another Birth. Her poetry at that time varied significantly from previous Iranian poetic conventions.
On February 13, 1967, Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age thirty-two. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her Jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be one of the best-structured modern poems in Persian.
Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade after the Islamic Revolution. A brief literary biography of Forough, Michael Hillmann’s A lonely woman: Forough Farrokhzad and her poetry, was published in 1987. Farzaneh Milani’s work Veils and words: the emerging voices of Iranian women writers (1992) included a chapter about her. Nasser Saffarian has directed three documentaries about her life: The Mirror of the Soul (2000), The Green Cold (2003), and Summit of the Wave (2004).
In February 2017, on the occasion of 50 years after Farrokhzad’s death, the 94-year-old Golestan broke his silence about his relationship with Forough, speaking to the Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan. “I rue all the years she isn’t here, of course, that’s obvious,” he said. “We were very close, but I can’t measure how much I had feelings for her. How can I? In kilos? In metres?”
Farrokhzad is now widely regarded as a famous Iranian poet and an advocate for women’s liberation and independence. She wrote during a time when Iranian women were facing extensive discrimination and prejudice. Many of her works are rich in feminist related aspects. For example, in her poem “Woman,” Farrokhzad directly presents and critiques the challenges and difficulties that women struggle with in unequal societies. In this poem, she points to the different ways that women are judged, not only for one’s physical appearance but even one’s soul. In this way, Farrokhzad speaks the challenges that women have faced throughout time and in most of the cultures of the world that viewed as the weaker gender.