Simin Behbahani

Simin Behbahani
سیمین بهبهانی
Simin Behbahani
Born Simin Khalili
(1927-06-20)20 June 1927
Tehran, Persia
Died 19 August 2014(2014-08-19) (aged 87)
Tehran, Iran
Burial place Behesht-e Zahra
Nationality Iranian
Education University of Tehran
Occupation Poet, Lyricist, writer
Spouse(s) Hassan Behbahani (1946–1970, divorced)
Manouchehr Koshyar (1971–2002, his death)
Children Ali (b. 1948)
Parent(s) Abbas Khalili (Father)
Fakhr-e Ozma Arghun (Mother)

Simin Behbahani (Persian: سیمین بهبهانی‎‎; 20 June 1927 – 19 August 2014) was a prominent Iranian contemporaneity poet, lyricist and activist. She was an icon of the modern Persian poetry, Iranian intelligentsia and literati who affectionately refer to her as the lioness of Iran.[1] She was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and has "received many literary accolades around the world."[2] Her surname also appears as Bihbahani.


  • Biography 1
  • Death 2
  • Works 3
  • Awards and honours 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Board of Governors of Association of Patriotic Women, Tehran, 1922

Simin Behbahani, whose real name was Simin Khalili (Persian: سیمین خلیلی‎‎)[3] (سيمين خليلی), was the daughter of Abbās Khalili (عباس خلیلی), poet, writer and Editor of the Eghdām (Action) newspaper,[4] and Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (فخرعظمی ارغون), poet and teacher of the French language.[5] Abbās Khalili (1893–1971) wrote poetry in both Persian and Arabic and translated some 1100 verses of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh into Arabic.[6] Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun (1898–1966) was one of the progressive women of her time and a member of Khānun-e Nesvān-e Vatan'khāh (Association of Patriotic Women) between 1925 and 1929. In addition to her membership of Hezb-e Democrāt (Democratic Party) and Kānun-e Zanān (Women's Association), she was for a time (1932) Editor of the Āyandeh-ye Iran (Future of Iran) newspaper. She taught French at the secondary schools Nāmus, Dār ol-Mo'allemāt and No'bāvegān in Tehran.[7]

Simin Behbahani started writing poetry at twelve and published her first poem at the age of fourteen. She used the "Char Pareh" style of Nima Yooshij and subsequently turned to ghazal. Behbahani contributed to a historic development by adding theatrical subjects and daily events and conversations to poetry using the ghazal style of poetry. She has expanded the range of the traditional Persian verse forms and has produced some of the most significant works of the Persian literature in the 20th century.

She was President of The Iranian Writers' Association and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999 and 2002.

In early March 2010 she could not leave the country due to official prohibitions. As she was about to board a plane to Paris, police detained her and interrogated her "all night long". She was released but without her passport. Her English translator (Farzaneh Milani) expressed surprise at the arrest as detention as Behbahani was then 82 and nearly blind. "We all thought that she was untouchable."[2]


Behbahani was hospitalized in Tehran on 6 August 2014. She remained in a coma from 6 August until her death 19 August 2014. She died in Tehran's Pars Hospital and she was 87. Her funeral was held on 22 August in Vahdat Hall and her body was buried at Behesht-e Zahra.


  • The Broken Lute [Seh-tar-e Shekasteh, 1951]
  • Footprint [Ja-ye Pa, 1954]
  • Chandelier [Chelcheragh, 1955]
  • Marble [Marmar 1961]
  • Resurrection [Rastakhiz, 1971]
  • A Line of Speed and Fire [Khatti ze Sor'at va Atash, 1980]
  • Arzhan Plain [Dasht-e Arzhan, 1983]
  • Paper Dress [Kaghazin Jameh, 1992]
  • A Window of freedom [Yek Daricheh Azadi, 1995]
  • Collected Poems [Tehran 2003]
  • Maybe It's the Messiah [Shayad ke Masihast, Tehran 2003] Selected Poems, translated by Ismail Salami
  • A Cup of Sin, Selected poems, translated by Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa

Awards and honours

  • 1998 Human Rights Watch Hellman-Hammet Grant
  • 1999 Carl von Ossietzky Medal
  • 2006 Norwegian Authors' Union Freedom of Expression Prize
  • 2009 mtvU Poet Laureate[8]
  • 2013 Janus Pannonius Poetry Prize[9]

See also


  1. ^ Fatemeh Keshavarz, Banishing the Ghosts of Iran, The Chronicle Review of Higher Education, Vol. 53, No. 45, p. B6 (13 July 2007). [1]
  2. ^ a b Tehran Halts Travel By Poet Called 'Lioness Of Iran' by Mike Shuster, NPR, 17 March 2010
  3. ^ Behbahani was the last name of her first husband [2].
  4. ^ Abbās Khalili, Persian WorldHeritage.
  5. ^ Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun, Persian WorldHeritage.
  6. ^ Abbās Khalili, ibid.
  7. ^ Fakhr-e Ozmā Arghun, ibid.
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^
 For Further Reading
  • Chopra, R M, " Eminent Poetesses of Persian ", Iran Society, Kolkata, 2010

External links

  • Biography of Simin Behbahani
  • An International Symposium on The Life and Poetry of Simin Behbahani
  • A Poet Who 'Never Sold Her Pen or Soul'
  • Simin Behbahani reads poetry at SOAS, University of London, 6 February 2005, YouTube (part 1, part 2).
  • Sārā Ommat-e Ali, Simin Behbahani: I am alive, in Persian, Sarmāyeh [Capital] Newspaper (Ruz'nāmeh-ye Sarmāyeh). Reprinted in: Association of the Iranian Women (Kānun-e Zanān-e Irani), Wednesday 5 December 2007, [4].
  • Shahāb Mirzāi, A Line Made From Swiftness and Fire (Khatti ze Sor'at va Ātash), in Persian, Jadid Online, 2008, [5].
    A slide show of photographs with text spoken by Simin Behbahani, Jadid Online, 2008: [6] (3 min 56 sec).
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