Spring 2017 SEMINARS - April 5 2017

Seminar on Iranian Studies

The seventh meeting of the 29th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2016-2017 will take place on:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University

Our speaker will be
Sholeh Wolpé
Who will lead the discussion on:
The Conference of the Birds by Farid-al-Din Attar

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30 pm.
Seminar will start at 5:30.

Please notify us at aa398@columbia.edu if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you would like to join us for dinner. Dinner is a fixed menu buffet, which costs $30 per person, payable by check made out to “Columbia University”.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.
Co-Chairs: Vahid Nowshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116 th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


Sholeh Wolpé will be presenting from Attār’s epic poem The Conference of the Birds, a magnificent allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. The poem recounts the perilous journey of the world’s birds to the faraway peaks of Mount Qāf—a mythical mountain that wraps around the earth—in search of their king, the mysterious Simorgh. Attar’s beguiling anecdotes and humor intermingle the sublime with the mundane, the spiritual with the worldly, and the religious with the metaphysical. Reflecting the entire evolution of Sufi mystic tradition, The Conference of the Birds models the soul’s escape from the mind’s rational embrace.

“Attar’s grand allegory for the journey of the soul as it seeks union with the divine has influenced countless artists, poets, mystics, and believers around the world. But never before has it been rendered in English with such beauty, elegance, and precision. Wolpé’s translation of this epic is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.” — Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: “The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”

“In this beautiful rendering of Attar's Conference of the Birds, Sholeh Wolpé, herself a passionate poet, transports us to another time, another language & another world, while reminding us of how enduring & universal great works of imagination are, how they create spaces within which we not only acknowledge and appreciate our differences but also recognize & celebrate our shared humanity. Only a true poet could achieve such a feat” — Azar Nafisy, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“I was struck by this accomplished translation, which moves the reader along from one stanza to the next in strong, compelling rhythms. I think what Sholeh Wolpé has done exceedingly well is to bring this medieval poem over into lively, contemporary English that feels absolutely right and not at all forced.” — Edith Grossman, author of Why Translation Matters


Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran and has lived in Trinidad, U.K. and the United States. About her poems, The Poetry Foundation writes, “Wolpé’s concise, unflinching, and often wry free verse explores violence, culture, and gender.” A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award, 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, among others, her publications include four collections of poetry, a play, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Wolpé ’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton) by the 12th century Iranian mystic poet, Attar, has been hailed by Reza Aslan as “timeless as the masterpiece itself.” Wolpé’s writings have been translated into eleven languages. She is based in Los Angeles. Learn more at www.sholehwolpe.com.