Majid Naficy was born in Isfahan, Iran, in 1952 and currently lives in West Los Angeles, California. Raised in a large and well- educated family, his first poems were published in a literary journal in Isfahan when he was just 13. After studying at the University of California at Los Angeles, Naficy returned to Tehran University, abandoned writing poetry, and joined political groups working to overthrow the Shah. After the 1979 Revolution, when Khomeini began to crack down on dissidents, Naficy and his wife, Ezzat Tabaiyan, were forced to go underground, but continued to work against the new regime. In 1981 both Ezzat and Naficy’s brother, Said, were imprisoned and executed and thereafter, in 1983, Naficy fled the country. With the help of Kurdish guerillas, Naficy escaped to Turkey on horseback, carrying the nine poems he had written after Ezzat’s death, some money, an Afghani passport, and torn photos of his brother and wife. Eighteen months later he was granted asylum in the U. S. and moved to Venice, California.
Naficy’s poetry has been widely anthologized, and he has published more than twenty collections of poetry in Persian and two collections in English. He is a beloved poet among Iranian exiles in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and an inspiration to many. In his honour, a stanza of his poem ‘Ah, Los Angeles!’ is engraved on the wall of a city park in Venice.
This podcast features Elizabeth T. Grey Jr, reading her translation of the poem, first published in MPT 'The Great Flight'.
ELIZABETH T. GRAY, JR. is a poet, translator, and corporate consultant. SERIES | INDIA, a collection of original poems, was published by Four Way Books in 2015. Her translations from classical and contemporary Persian include The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Diwan-i Ha z-i Shirazi (1995) and Iran: Poems of Dissent (2013).