LITERARY SALON: Dar Hejrat: Literature Among Migrants and Migrant Literature (In Persian)

This panel brings together a group of Montreal writers who have throughout the past few years gathered in several writing workshops, literary lectures, story reading in different literary community spaces such as Montreal Literary Society and Zagros Publishing House and have been supported by local media such as Hafteh and Payvand. The result of these gathering has led to form a network which has facilitated exchanges of ideas and has led to reflections on how migration has effected Iranian writers who have settled in Montreal. As the theme of the panel suggests the new “home” has created a new ambiance, that of migrant. Migration has left a trace of longing for their country of their birth and a certain type of “homelessness.” The panel starts with Mr. Mehdi Marashi who will read part of his short story “Jai Narafteh Shaer” (the poet has not gone anywhere). This short story similar to the next story by Alireza Shams ”Baran” (the Rain”) is about the experience of being a migrant in both cases from Iran to Montreal. Both authors will give a taste of their feeling laden in nostalgia and dislocation. The panel then moves to the next presenter which relies on theme of migration and exile elaborated in the work of literacy critiques such ash Edward Said’s Reflection of Exile (2000) and post-colonial work of Homi Baba on being a “migrant.” Roksana Bahramitash will read passages of her writing about her trip as an Iranian-Canadian to Afghanistan to making a documentary on the image of Afghan women in Western media within a post colonial discourse articulated by the work of Spivak (1988). The trip ends with a suicide bombing leaving the author in perpetual state of existential exile (Adorno 1984.) The panel ends with a discussion by Amy Motlagh who will situation and contextualize these reading within the currents of modern Persian literature in general and in the context of the diaspora literary community in particular.

Personal Information (Panel Organizer)

Roksana Bahramitash
Université de Montréal


Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
University of Maryland


by Mehdi Marashi / Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

The narrator is an immigrant who lives in Montreal where he meets a compatriot-poet, from his home country-Iran. They meet several times in the poet’s home and during each visit the poet reads his poems to the narrator. The narrator follows the footsteps of the poet’s emotions and his affection for a woman. The story takes place during a cold winter. The story comes to an end when the narrator finds that the poet refuses to open the door for him. The narrator becomes engaged with the question of presence or absence of the poet at home and decides to come back at a later time. He returns and rings the bell again but there is no answer. The narrator tries one last time and arrives to the poet’s home on their usual meeting time. He rings again, and again stands by the door step. There is no answer, the narrator waits and waits, opens the bottle of wine he has brought, and waits for the poet who is no longer opening the door.

by Alireza Shams / McGill University

It is the tale of a day from the life of an immigrant who is searching through his memories. It is a rainy day and he has to return home because he forgot to take some important documents related to his job. He takes a bus and tries to relax but the annoying rain reminds him of some memories. As he sits in the bus, he starts thinking unconsciously about his life before leaving the country. He remembers his love and everything related to her: her face, her voice and her interests and why she had to leave him. He looks at other people but it seems like he cannot see them. He is living in the past. He wishes he could come back to that time but it is not possible; He has to accept his current life, but it is not easy either.

by Roksana Bahramitash / Université de Montréal

The author in this story engages in creative non-fiction work and starts to tell her story of her second trip to Afghanistan in 2008. She travels as an academic and is critical of the US foreign policy and invasion of Afghanistan from a post colonial feminist perspective. The story is about how her disappointment with negative Western stereotypes about women inspires her to produce and direct a documentary on Afghan women. The story starts with the writer’s disappointment with the disasters of the war against Afghanistan in the name of freeing women from the Taliban, and takes the reader to Afghanistan on the author’s second journey, this time however, along with a Montreal based non-for profit for a project on women’s micro enterprise. The undercurrent of the story is the author’s unsettledness and “homelessness” (Adorno 1984.) She finds moments of being at home ironically in a country which has become a war zone. The glimpses of home comes to the reader through the author’s affection for Kabul which reminds her of her childhood. The story reveals the author’s exhilaration by the possibilities of what might she be able to do for women in the war zone. As the short story unravels, the author discovers others and connects with other aid workers. Yet the trip terminates by a suicide bombing in 2008, which led to the death of four UN workers concurrent with another suicide bombing in Pakistan where hundreds are killed.