Winner of the 2007 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize
In his provocative, brave, and sometimes brutal first book of poems, Roger Sedarat directly addresses the possibility of political change in a nation that some in America consider part of "the axis of evil." Iranian on his father's side, Sedarat explores the effects of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 - including censorship, execution, and pending war - on the country as well as on his understanding of his own origins.
Written in a style that is as sure-footed as it is experimental, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic confronts the past and current injustices of the Iranian government while retaining a sense of respect and admiration for the country itself. Woven into this collection are the author's vivid descriptions of the landscape as well as the people of Iran. Throughout, Sedarat exhibits a keen appreciation for the literary tradition of Iran, and in making it new, attempts to preserve the culture of a country he still claims as his own.
With honesty of homemade butter,
paddle-churned cream (eshta in Arabic,
ecstasy foaming to the brim), a woman
river-bathes, sheet of oil-black hair breaking
in rapids, cut lemon scintillating
olive skin free of tree-stumped chador, skirts
within skirts, peal of her bell-body rung
muffled in Iran heat-a splash of white.
The rhythm of pumice scraping her feet,
sandbar against warm current, frothy cape
a bee-bubbled hive, honeyed trace curling
to her bare knees, thick transparent lather.
At a Tehran bazaar endless gold-stores
could never return me anywhere pure.
Roger Sedarat is an assistant professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College/City University of New York. He is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference as well as a St. Botolph Society poetry grant. His verse has appeared in such journals as New England Review, Atlanta Review, and Poet Lore.