The poetic heart of Iranian culture

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Roya Hakakian and Reza Aslan

Roya Hakakian and Reza Aslan


Courtesy of Roya Hakakian and Reza Aslan

Iran is a nation with a 4,000 year-old cultural history that can be seen in its movies, music and art. But it’s through poetry that Iranians choose to really understand one another, say Reza Aslan and Roya Hakakian.

The Iranian American author and scholar Reza Aslan and poet and journalist Roya Hakakian discuss the influence of poetry before and after the 1979 Iranian revolution and the intimacy of the art form in the culture’s history and daily life.

“Poetry more than even prose or simple daily dialog has been the way that we have reached into each other and created relationships with one another,” Hakakian says.

“It’s at the very fabric of Persian culture,” Aslan says. “Our cultural and national heroes are not political leaders, are not religious leaders … they’re poets.”

To cap the conversation off, Hakakian reads poetry that flies in the face of Iran’s oppressive government. 

(Originally aired April 9, 2005)

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