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Page dedicated to Ahmad Shamloo. Iran's great poet Print E-mail


Ahmad Shamlou also known under his nom de plume A. Bamdad (December 12, 1925 — July 24, 2000) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamlou is arguably the most influential poet of modern Iran. His poetry was initially very much influenced by and was in the tradition of Nima Youshij. Shamlou's poetry is complex, yet his imagery, which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems, is simple. As the base, he uses the traditional imagery familiar to his Iranian audience through the works of Persian masters like Hafez and Omar Khayyám. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete thus far unprecedented in Persian poetry, which distressed some of the admirers of more traditional poetry.

Shamlou has translated extensively from German and French to Persian and his own works are also translated into a number of languages. He has also written a number of plays, edited the works of major classical Persian poets, especially Hafez. His thirteen-volume Ketab-e Koucheh (The Book of Alley) is a major contribution in understanding the Iranian folklore beliefs and language.

Aside from his first passion which was poetry, he had a number of other activities which included writing stories and film scenarios, contributing to children’s literature, and journalism.


Early life
Ahmad Shamlou was born to Haydar Shamlou and Kowkab Araqi on December 12, 1925 in Tehran to an army family. Ahmad was the second child and the only son in a family of six children. His father Haydar was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and during his childhood he moved to Tehran with family. Kowkab also came from an immigrant family. Like many children who grow up in families with military parents, he received his early education in various towns, including Khash and Zahedan in the southeast of Iran, and Mashhad in the northeast, and Rasht in the north.

Ahmad's childhood and adolescent were neither privileged nor easy. his home was not an environment that could foster her sensitivities and he often found solace in solitude.

Moving with his family from one town to the next proved a hurdle to shamlou's education. By 1941, his high school education still incomplete, he left Birjand for Tehran. He intended to attend the German-established Tehran Technical School, one of the best secondary schools of that period and learn the German language. He was admitted to this school on the condition that he be demoted two years. Soon in 1942, he and the rest of the family once a again left Tehran to move for Gorgan. In 1945, he made a final attempt at completing his high school degree in Urumieh, but he failed.

At age 29, following the fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, Shamlu was arrested for being a member of the communist Tudeh Party of Iran and imprisoned for more than one year.

 Young poet
I, an Iranian poet, first learned poetry from the Spanish Lorca, the frenchman Éluard, the German Rilke, the Russian Mayakovsky... and the American Langston Hughes; and only later, with this education I turned to the poems of my mother tongue to see and to know, say, the grandeur of Hafez from a fresh perspective.
Ahmad Shamlou
Shamlou's debut work was Forgotten Songs (Persian: آهنگهای فراموش شده), a collection of classical and modern poetry which was published in 1947 with an introduction of Ebrahim Dilmaghanian. In 1948 he started to write in a literary monthly called Sokhan. Two years later his first short story The Woman Behind the Brass Door (Persian: زن پشت در مفرغی) was published. Second collection of poems Manifesto (Persian: قطعنامه), was published in 1951. He showed clear inclinations toward Socialist ideology.

He rose to fame from his third volume of poetry, Fresh Air (Persian: هوای تازه), which he published in 1957. Zia Movahed, poet and philosopher commented that "Anyone who reads Fresh Air today can see that this language, this texture, is different from anything else. In contemporary poetry, few have accomplished this kind of rhythm as Shamlu has. Fresh Air was the greatest event in our poetry – after Hafez
In 1984 was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.


 Ahmad Shamlou and Ayda Sarkisian.

Personal life

He got married three times. His first marriage in 1947 was with Ashraf Isslamiya (d. 1978) which gave him three sons and a daughter:
•    Siavash Shamlou, (1948 - 2009)
•    Sirous Shamlou,
•    Saman Shamlou
•    Saghi Shamlou

They divorced in 1957 after several years of conflict and long separation. Neither did his second marriage to Tusi Hayeri Mazandarani (d. 1992) who was fourteen years older than Shamlou, in 1957 that ended in divorce in 1963 after four years of marriage. But his third marriage in 1964 to Ayda Sarkisian was a lasting one. They met in the spring of 1962 and married two years later. Ayda came from an Armenian Iranian family who lived in the same neighborhood with Shamlou. Her family objected to her marriage because of their Christian background in contrast to the Islamic background of Shamlou's family. Moreover, Shamlou was older, and has been divorced twice.

She became a very instrumental figure in Shamlou's life and remained with him until his death in 2000. Her name, Ayda, appears in many of his later poems. She currently lives in Karaj.


Suffering from several illness at the same time, his physical condition deteriorated in 1996. He underwent several operations. And in 1997 his right foot was amputated due to severe diabetic problems. He died on Sunday July 23, 2000 at 9 p.m. at Iran-Mehr Hospital in Tehran due to complications from his diabetes.

Shamlou's home in Karaj.


On July 27, thousands took part in Ahmad Shamlou's funeral.  He was buried in Emamzadeh Taher

His works and style
Ahmad Shamlou's poetic vision accords with both western Modernist concepts and the modern transformation of classical Persian poetry. The Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, the black American poet, Langston Hughes, and the French thinker and writer, Louis Aragon, and mainly Nima Youshij is among the figures who influenced him.

You can find recording of his poetry, in his own voice, in almost every Iranian home. He had turned into a myth years ago. His words have had the charisma and magic of a prophet. He did not lead by decree. He just lived and his life and words scattered through the minds and hearts of several generations of Iranian humanists and liberals, giving them hope, faith and aspiration.

One of the disciple of Nima Youshij,Shamlou, standing among the generation who adopted his techniques, constantly sought untried ways, new poetic realms. He quickly became the flag bearer of young Iranian poets and writers that included Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Sepehri, Mehdi Akhavan Sales, Yadollah Roya’i, Nosrat Rahmani, and Nader Naderpour.

Shamlou is famous for employing the style and words of the man in the street. He developed a simple, free poetic style, known in Iran as Sepid poetry (literally meaning white), which is a kind of free verse that departs from the tightly balanced rhythm and rhymes of classical Persian poetry.
The themes in his poetry range from political issues mostly freedom to human condition and love and he talks about sacrifice, betrayal, desire, pain, the beauty of nature and the agonizing fragility of life and human misery.


 hamlou while writing.

Political views
He is a humanist and a socially minded intellectual who has woven personal love and affection together with his social attitudes. In his poetry he lives always with hope and his passion for justice.
He was a major force in the intellectual movement opposed to the former Shah of Iran before the 1979 revolution. The Shah sent him to exile in 1970. In 1977, one year before the collapse of Shah's Regime, he signed an open letter which supported the rights of gathering for members of The Writers Association of Iran.

New Islamic regime wasn't favorable to him, considering him as an anti-Islamist nationalist element, a traitor and a Westernised writer

 However, considering his immense popularity, the ruling clerics did not dare to arrest him, but at the same time didn't allow publication of of his works for many years. Since the early 1990s his poems have appeared in many literary journals.

Shamlou had been rehabilitated under Iran's moderate and free-thinking president, Mohammad Khatami and much to the hard-liners' disappointment and annoyance, Khatami's liberal Culture Minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, openly expressed his grief over Shamlou's death.

•    Forough Farrokhzad Prize (1973)
•    The Fund for Free Expression (1990)

•    Stig Dagerman Award (1999)

Cover of a magazine edited by Shamlou.Ahmad Shamlou has published more than seventy books: 16 volumes of poetry; 5 anthologies of poetry; 5 volumes including novels, short stories & screenplays; 9 volumes of children's literature; 9 translations of poetry into Persian; 21 novels translated into Persian; 5 collections of essays, lectures and interviews; 13 volumes (to date) of The Book Of Alley.

The Forgotten Songs (1947)
The Verdict (1951)
Poems of Iron and Feelings (1953)
Fresh Air (1957)
The Mirror Orchard (1960)
Ayda in the Mirror (1964)
Moments and Forever (1964)
Ayda: Tree,Dagger, Remembrance (1965)
Phoenix in the Rain (1966)
Blossoming in the Mist (1970)
Abraham in the Fire (1973)
The Doors and the Great Wall of China (1973)
Of Airs and Mirrors (1974)
Poniard on the Plate (1977)
Little Rhapsodizes of Exile (1979 - 1980)
Panegyrics Sans Boon (1992)
The Cul-de-Sac and the Tigers in Love (1998)
The Tale of Mahan's Restlessness (2000)
The Book of Alley (1978 - Present)


Watch Moslrem Mansoori's 2009 film about Ahmad Shamloo

 Silence is full of noises, a translation of Margot Bickel's work

 official web site of Shamloo

 Site for Anthology of poets

 A poem by Shamloo: Pariya- part one

 A poem by Shamloo: Pariya- part two

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