Iran, Iran: Secret Poetry
By Henrik Eger, Kerman University, Kerman, Iran, 1977-78.
These poems were written during the time of the Shah ruling Iran, the beginning of the revolution, the many dangers lurking for everyone who had made a commitment to one side or the other, and the spread of secretly recorded sermons from the Ayatollah Khomeini.
With the exception of one British colleague, all Europeans and Americans had fled. I stayed, convinced that the revolution could only improve life in a country where even our handouts for the students were censored by SAVAK operatives, the Shah's secret agency. They were the only people at the university who had access to a copying machines. I experienced the closing of Kerman University where I was teaching English and German. While travelling throughout Iran, I witnessed torture at the police headquarters in Tabriz, an experience so frightening that I had nightmares for weeks.
Christmas Eve 1978, while celebrating with the last few Westerners in Kerman, friends broke into my house and robbed me of almost everything. After I caught them and confronted them in the presence of three friends--the university physician and son of the Ayatollah of Kerman; the university librarian; and an Iranian engineer who had married a German physician who had been treated badly by some people, even though she had converted to Islam and had been wearing a chador on all her visits to patients--I fled from Kerman to Zahedan, the Iranian border town to Baluchistan, and from there, on a smuggler train, to Quetta and Karachi in Pakistan, and from there to Bombay (now Mumbai) in India.
I lived in a charming little hotel in Fort near the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Indian Navy, read newspapers daily, and interviewed many refugees from Iran--observing the ongoing Islamic revolution from a distance. Its many executions and its censorship made it worse than anything that I had experienced under the old Shah regime. I realized quickly that the hopes for a better future for Iran had been dashed.
During that time, the interregnum where the Shah had left but the Ayatollah Khomeini had not arrived yet, Kayhan International, the widely read English language newspaper in Tehran, published an article of mine, called “Iran, Iran," with many of my poems about Iran--except any that were critical of the incoming regime.
While in Iran, I had secretly recorded my observations in the form of two collections of poems about life in one of the oldest civilizations in the world. I named both of them Iran, Iran: Secret Poetry—one in English and the other in German. As soon as I have the chance, I would like to post some of those poems in the War Zones section on Drama Around the Globe.
Samples, and perhaps the whole book, will be published on this site at a future date.