Order Books Written by Nasrin Parvaz

...And later in the notebooks, Xavar depicts the unbearable moment when Mahvash, who was like a mother to her in prison, was called by the guards for execution:

“She kissed me and wished that I would  ‘stay alive’ as she went. ‘Stay alive’ are the last words uttered by those who go to be executed to us who are still living. They are the same words, spoken in different accents and with varying degrees of fear, hesitation, anxiety, confusion, or even happiness that I have heard so many times here.”

- Nasrin Parvaz

 

In 1979, Nasrin Parvaz returned from England, where she had been studying, and became a member of a socialist party in Iran fighting for a non-Islamic state in which women had the same rights as men. Three years later, at the age of 23, she was betrayed by a comrade and arrested by the regime’s secret police.


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“For those of you who weren’t able to see it, it was an exhibition of paintings by foreign national prisoners and ex-prisoners, taken from a variety of sources. The exhibition was on display from the 1st to the 7th of May, and was opened by our MP, Rosie Duffield.”

 

“the writer is a lonely hunter.”

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“Nasrin gives a frank account of her time in Iran’s prison system which has opened my eyes to the extremes that can be endured and overcome. It is a testament to her resilience and that of others who remained resolute and refused to recant their beliefs. Nasrin survived and I celebrate her ability to share these experiences from which we can all learn. I recommend this memoir to you.”

 


In Tehran there is a historic circular building once known as the Joint Committee Interrogation Centre. Its designers were German, so the balcony railings were decorated with Nazi symbols. Reza Shah ordered it in 1932 and it was ready in 1937. Political prisoners were tortured there. 

 

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Two Poems: Walls, Refugees

Walls

She puts her ear to the dam
as if listening for Morse code
but she’s trying to hear
the sounds of the waves
hitting the thick walls.
She murmurs to them
willing them to hit harder.
She believes that
one day the raging water
will break the hard wall
of her cell.

 

Refugees

We were wrong
to think that the earth
covers the dead.
So many corpses
never reach the earth
they’re washed over and over
with cold salt water
till there is nothing left of them
but bones.

“Night” and “Million Moving Pieces”

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Night

Time froze
at the call of the first name.
The names always began
being called at noon
when the air was dank
with hundreds of women
confined
breathing each other’s breath
longing for the darkness
for no one was ever called
for execution at night.

 

Million Moving Pieces

Whenever I board a train
I remember Yavar
he worked in a factory in Arak
making parts for trains.
He used to point with pride and say:
‘You see that train!
I made it.’

He heard the sound of trains
in his sleep
yet when he went anywhere
he went by coach
as he never earned enough money
to take a train to go somewhere,
anywhere.

He left some of himself
in all these million moving pieces.

Homelessness and God

Homelessness

Twilight, walking down Camden high street
past the bright open shops
and the full up pubs
I see him through a forest of legs
sitting by a lamp post
his hands on his young ears
in the midst of the high noise.
His back hunched
his legs drawn up
making space for the passers-by.
Men and women are all around him
talking and laughing
as if he is not there.

 

God

When she heard she had given birth to a boy
all the pain lifted from her body
God had listened to her prayers
and was sending her a copy of himself
hopefully he would look like her husband.

 

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My Red Father

Nasrin Parvaz became a civil rights activist when the Islamic regime took power in 1979. She was arrested in 1982, tortured and spent eight years in prison. In 1993, she fled to England. Her prison memoir is being crowdfunded by Unbound publisher. Nasrin’s stories, poems, articles and translations appeared in Exiled Writers Ink; Modern Poetry in Translation series; Write to be Counted, Resistance Anthology 2017; Words And Women 2017; 100 poems for human rights 2009; Hafiz, Goethe and the Gingko 2015; Over Land, Over Sea, Poems for those seeking refuge 2015; A novel, Temptation, based on the true stories of some male prisoners who survived the 1988 massacre of Iranian prisoners was published in Farsi in 2008.

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