Remembering a fearless poet known as 'Iran's Lioness'

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. You'll recall the eulogies in this country when Maya Angelou died earlier this year, such is the place held in the national consciousness by a major poet. Same with the passing today of poet Simin Behbahani. She was known as "Iran's Lioness," and today Iran is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved voices. Farzaneh Milani: For the last seven decades, she has been the voice — the eloquent, the defiant, the honest voice — of the Iranian people. Werman: Farzaneh Milani is a professor at the University of Virginia, who translated some of Behbahani's poems into English. They were also friends and Milani remembers just how unique a voice Behbahani was in Iran. Milani: She was a prodigy. She started writing poetry when she was only 14 and her concern has been social justice, human rights, democracy and perhaps what is really enduring in her poetry is her rejection of any form of violence. Werman: Behbahani's poetry was also noticed outside Iran. She was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature. She never won it but made up for it with numerous other awards for her work. Inside Iran though, her fearless writing drew government scrutiny. Her passport was confiscated and she was banned from traveling outside the country in 2010. Even President Obama brought this up in a message to the Iranian people in 2011. President Obama: I'd like to close with a quote from a poet, Simin Behbahani, a woman who has been banned from traveling beyond Iraq, even though her words have moved the world. "Old I may be, but given the chance, I will learn. I will begin a second youth alongside my progeny. I will recite the Hadith of love of country with such fervor as to make each word bear life. Werman: UVA's Farzaneh Milani says Simin Behbahani was not intimidated by the government, even in recent years after she was prevented from traveling. Milani: She never waited for the right place or the right moment to tell the truth. It's a loss for world literature, it's a loss for Iranian literature, it's a major loss. Werman: Iranian poet, Simin Behbahani died early this morning in a hospital in Tehran. She was 87-years-old.