Shuddhashar: What is it that you strive to explore and convey through your poetry?
Mehdi Mousavi: My poem is a flip to the audiences to make them think. I transform people and events around me into the poetry, but with psychological, sociological and philosophical perspective. I try to show my audiences the things which they ignore or do not care about them, with no judgment from me. There is no limit in the subjects of my poems. Many things can be subjects for my poems, from human loneliness in Norway to the death of a child in the Middle East, but the most common things in all these poems are a human perspective, an invitation to think and set aside presuppositions.
Shuddhashar: How do you interpret the present world, and how have current events spurred you to write?
Mehdi Mousavi: During my youth, I wrote many political, philosophical and romantic poems, but my experiences such as imprisonment, torture, exile, etc, in the last ten years, made the misery and sorrow inside my poems, much more concrete and deeper. The fact that my audiences has not had these kind of experiences, on the one hand, makes the subjects of my poems pristine and new to them, but on the other hand, it makes it difficult for me to transfer tangible feelings and pictures to an audience who does not have any idea about imprisonment, torture or exile. My current world is a personal suffering of being away from home which is connected to the general pain of the people of my country.
Shuddhashar: What literary pieces – poetry, fiction or non-fiction – and writers have informed and inspired your own writing? How have they done so?
Mehdi Mousavi: In Persian, I was once very close to the poems and thoughts of “Forough Farrokhzad”, particularly, her the last collection, and when I was teenager, I may have been influenced by her. In non-Persian languages, authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Kurt Vonnegut, Chekhov, etc. have each affected my technique and worldview at some point in my life. But to be honest, my poems and stories have never been affected by a special person and I have tried to make my own way in literature.
Shuddhashar: In what way do your personal identity and experiences shape your poetry?
Mehdi Mousavi: I am inspired by my personal experiences in my poems and stories, but my books are certainly not my diary. I combine these personal experiences with the experiences from the other people which come from books, movies, writing, etc. I also try to pay attention to the words and feelings of the people around me to place them inside my literary works. But, for me, the most important part of creating a literary work, is my imagination which makes a poem or a story out of the ordinary events of my own life and the lives of other people. This may not seem like the original story, but it is believable, beautiful and, most importantly, it makes the audience think.
Shuddhashar: How do you use structure, language and grammar to accentuate the message of your poetry? Do you subscribe to conventions or break them?
Mehdi Mousavi: The poetry movement which I have created in Iran (postmodern poetry) manipulate the language for creating the context or feelings which do not fit in a normal language, wherever it is needed. This breaking of the norms is not to be different, but to transfer a concept or expression of a situation which cannot be transferred in the normal structures of language. Unfortunately, these “linguistic experimentations” are usually not translatable, and they are lost in translation.
Shuddhashar: What is your opinion about the conflicts and solidarities between political poetry and the literary and artistic values of poetry?
Mehdi Mousavi: Sometimes, political poetry becomes a political manifesto and goes far away from literature. I do not like chanting in poetry and I do not think any of the lasting political poems have been of this kind. I think there can be a balance, where the poetry has both literary and artistic values and does care about social and political responsibility of the artist at the same time. I am always looking for making this balance and for me thought and beauty are very important in the poetry, at the same time.
Shuddhashar: Does your poetry transcend national boundaries? Does it appeal to different nationalities or linguistic groups?
Mehdi Mousavi: Unfortunately, my poems are rarely translated into the other languages. The indigenous and linguistic features of my poems maybe one of the reasons which make translation difficult. Another reason can be my poetic spirit which do not let me to have contact with people, publications and translators and it make me read and write all the time and do not take the translation, seriously. But my poems have many audiences in some of the countries such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan, where many people, like Iranian people, speak Persian which make me sure that in my poetry I write about human pain, not a specific region or race. Moreover, a few of my poems which have been translated into English, Norwegian, Spanish, Czech, etc. have usually received good feedback which makes me think about translating and publishing my books in the other languages and take this issue more seriously.
Gjendiktet fra persisk til Norsk av Nina Zandjani
I brystet bærer jeg på store smerter
Å, pinsler som blir der i evighet!
Måtte det ta slutt i dag
dette livet som kroppen min ikke vil ha
Jeg vandret i fjellet, uten lov
Jeg vandret gjennom lava
og brøt nye grenser
Jeg er nomaden som var nødt til å dra
La den berusede bare gråte
med pilleesken i hånden
Etter ingenting kommer ingenting
Selv ikke døden gjør meg glad
Jeg er den slitte som ikke vil ha fest
ikke fremtid eller håp
og ikke et nytt land
Det er ingenting her som gjør meg glad
Jeg snakker ikke om de kalde dagene
om eksplosjonen av smertene
eller om mannens gråt
Min ild kommer det ingen røyk fra
Jeg var i ryggsekken min på reisen
jeg savnet gråten i mausoleet
jeg savnet latteren til sønnen min
Det er ingen vei tilbake herfra
Et menneske uten behov for lenker
utsatt for den mørke natten som jeg
stirrende mot horisonten i uendelighet
Men i byen deres blir det aldri natt
Jeg trives med smerte og selvpining
med diffuse og gjentakende minner
Det finnes sår i kroppen min
som aldri vil bli leget …
Gi den nyfødte en klaps i ryggen, for første gråt
livet er trist, kort fortalt: som gråt!
Himmelen er skydekt, utålmodig, med klump i halsen
To tredjedeler av jorden er vann, to tredjedeler av jorden er gråt
Si «smil» til bildet, for meg er det alltid motsatt!
På bildene er det smil, men bak kamera, gråt
Det finnes ingen samklang, i himmelen ingen gud
Den når bare opp til taket, i Evin-fengselet, nattestid, gråt
Hvis det tillates at det blir et nytt år,
er trærne og spirene kunstige, alle Nowruz-symbolene er gråt!
Nagle meg fast med kyss! Ta meg og gjør meg frisk
Jeg er utslitt av mareritt, utslitt av gråt
Du står ved pilleesken og ber ikke om noe
for den beste slutt, for sist gråt!