Nader Naderpur's Life

Iraj Bashiri

Nader Naderpur was born on June 6, 1929, to an upper-class family of Tehran, Iran. His parents were both artists; his father was a skillful painter while his mother was an accomplished musician. Nader's early education in Tehran included learning French as well as the rudiments of painting and music. In general, his home environment created a unique atmosphere for him, an atmosphere conducive to the development of a balanced view of life. In this environment, reading the newspapers of the time as well as the works of masters such as Rudaki, Firdowsi, and Manuchehri took precedence over a lot to which Nader's peers paid special attention.

By the age of thireen Nader read and appreciated the works of the masters; he even composed and published classical-style Persian poetry in established journals of the time. Nader's devotion to the works of the classical poets lasted until the events of the early 1940s, events that weighed heavily on many Iranian youths, especially on some of the more sensitive ones like Naderpur. To give expression to his feelings of nationalism, Naderpur imitated the works of Nima Yushij and Parviz Natel Khanlari more than those of Hafiz and Sa'di, his earlier idols.

Upon finishing high school, Naderpur traveled to Europe where he stayed for five years studying French literature at the Sorbone. As a result of familiarity with that language and the works of the French masters, he translated a number of major French works into Persian; but, more importantly, he introduced a new vista into Persian poetry.

Between 1941, when Reza Shah abdicated in favor of Muhammad Reza, his son, and 1949, when there was an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the young shah, the situation in Iran was unsettled. A major development was the establishment of the Tudeh Party by leading leaders of the Communist Party of Iran incarcerated by Reza Shah in the mid-1930s. Since 1942, the party had flourished, gaining momentum towards asserting itself as a viable candidate against the established order. Furthermore, the party supported a number of leftist newspapers including "Mardom" (people), "Rahbar" (leader), and "Iran-i Ma" (our Iran). Like Tavallali and Nima, Naderpur published a number of poems in these papers, poems that at the time were frowned upon by the established literati in Tehran.

Naderpur's first book of poems, Eyes and Hands, published in 1953, is indicative of the impact of the French school on his work. Before he traveled to Italy in the mid-1960s, Naderpur published three other volumes of poetry. These were Daughter of the Cup (1955), The Grapes (1958), and Collyrium of the Sun (1960). In Italy, he learned the Italian language, studied the works of the Italian masters and translated a series of poems from Italian into Persian. The three-volume work that resulted was entitled The Seven Faces of Italian Poets.

Little is known about Naderpur's personal life other than that from early 1955 to mid-1956 he developed a close personal relationship with poetess Forugh Farrukhzad. When the poetess suffered a nervous breakdown, Naderpur visited her regularly, two or three times a week.

During the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution, Naderpur rested his pen but not his zeal for composing poetry, especially new poetry. A couple of volumes would easily accommodate the poems that he had composed while living abroad, mostly in Europe and the U.S.

Naderpur supported the three principles established by Nima Yushij. First, he believed that like natural or conversational speech, poetry must convey the meaning; the number of words as well as the simplicity or complexity of the phraseology must be dictated by the requirement of the expression of the thought being expressed. In other words, he believed that the phrases expressing single thoughts do not have to be of the same length. Secondly rhythm, Naderpur believed, need not follow an established, monotonous form. Rather, like natural speech, it should be allowed to vary depending on the requirements of the thought structure being expressed. Thirdly, rhyme must appear at the end of each completed thought pattern. Rather than forced on thought segments, Naderpur believed, rhyme must serve as a unifier; it must join complete thought segments and present them as a cohesive expression of the poet's sentiments.

Nader Naderpur died in California, February 19, 2000 at the age of 70.

A Man with Two Shadows

Nader Naderpur
translated by Iraj Bashiri