A & A in Focus

eshgh ast o, motor savari 7 sobh, to khiaboon pahlavi ba bf!!!

Photo by: Negin Fazeli
Photographed in Iran on Vali Asr Street, 2010.

Vali-Asr Street (Persian: ولی عصر ) is a tree-lined street in Tehran, Iran, dividing the metropolis into western and eastern parts. It is considered one of Tehran’s main thoroughfares and commercial centres. It is also the longest street in the Middle East, and was reported as one of the longest in the world by former BBC (now Al Jazeera) journalist Rageh Omaar.

The street was built by Reza Shah Pahlavi’s order and called the Pahlavi Street. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution the street’s name was changed initially to Mossadeq Street (in reference to former nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq) and later to Valiasr (a reference to the 12th Shi’ite Imam). Valiasr Street is the hub of different activities in Tehran and innumerable shops and restaurants as well a large number of parks (like Mellat Park), highways, cultural centers are situated along this long avenue. (Wikepedia.com)      ***



GOAL! and Secret Message;
one Author’s Invitation to engage kids in humanity

Our Author in Focus this issue is Mina Javaherbin, author of two award winning and globally engaging Disney label children’s books GOAL! and Secret Message.

cover of Javaherbin's award winning book

I remember riding my red tricycle in our garden and making up stories about ladybugs, roses and the brick walls while the entire household took afternoon naps. I didn’t know how to write yet and when I learned, I wrote poetry, stories and plays. Since then reading and writing have been a daily part of my life.

My efforts to create good children’s literary work are being acknowledged by awards and prestigious nominations. I vividly remember when my publisher called to say Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmund Tutu had read GOAL! and endorsed it by a lovely paragraph to be printed on the jacket cover. I cried.

Immediately I recalled the black and white images reporting the anti-apartheid struggles of South Africa on the Iranian TV. I was in elementary school in Iran, and I understood the unfair situation and identified with the people of South Africa as my parents explained. Sharing the news of the world with our children is a sacred act. I will forever thank my parents for encouraging us to know. With my writing I hope to introduce that willingness for understanding.  Arts and literature offer a firm foundation for our humanitarian efforts.

Thank you for buying books, thank you for reading books and thank you for keeping the stories alive. Aware and open minds will never bend under the rule of injustice.
Mina Javaherbin’s book GOAL! is now translated into eleven different African languages.
Here are the list of some awards and nominations for GOAL!
GOAL! won the IRA (International Reading Association) award
and is nominated for:
Irma Black Award
CYRM (California Young Readers Medal)
Texas Blue Bonnet Award
The Chickadee Award of Maine State
Best one hundred picture books of 2010 by the NYPL
Best one hundred picture books of 2010 by the Smithsonian Library.

The Secret Message is soon to be translated into Portuguese and published in Brazil.
It won a Gold Seal From the Oppenhiem Books and Toy Awards.

For more information about Mina’s books and book signing events please visit her website and her blog at  www.minajavaherbin.com



Our Artist in Focus this issue is Julie Fatemian, who creates sacred mandalas for healing, meditation and deepened spiritual practice. Mandala is an ancient Sanscrit word meaning circle. A sample of Julie’s work is on our inside cover. (see also: www.mysticalpilgrimage.com).

Sun Yantra by Julie Fatemian

I came into this world with a strong sense that there is a higher power that created and connected all things. I always knew there was more to life than what met the eye.  I wasn’t sure exactly what life was or why I was created and had the experiences I did but I was determined to find out.

I soon realized that we are all here to serve a purpose and to assist each other in the awakening process.  As we awaken to the truth of who we are, the struggles in life fall away and we become more aware of the feedback we receive from the universe.  As I let go of old stories, I found more peace and acceptance inside of myself.  I was experiencing spiritual healing at a profound level.

I studied the practice of Tibetan monks that create mandalas from sand, herbs, precious and semi precious stones as an offering to the universe while chanting and praying.  The beauty of their intention deeply resonated with me and led me to design geometrical patterns that brought to life esoteric concepts.

I paint the lotus petals frequently in the images I create symbolizing mental and spiritual purity.  In the chakra system, the lotus represents wheels of energy that are energy centers on the body each having a certain meaning.  The first chakra which is at the base of the spine, is the color red and is known for grounding ones energy into the earth and representing the essential needs for safety and security. The seventh chakra is violet, symbolizing the spiritual chakra, also known as the crown chakra, has a thousand petals symbolic of the opening of the mind and consciousness to the higher realms.  The growth pattern of the lotus is also symbolic of the growth of the soul.

In all of the mandalas I create, I place a jewel in the center of the mandala symbolizing inner light.  I use various colors to create beautiful pieces. I use white, gold, metallic and iridescent colors to convey light and its magnificence. I also use various stones from crystals to semi-precious that have various metaphysical properties as used by shamans to evoke the healing powers of mother earth.  My paintings are intended to assist the viewer in going on the inner journey and thus opening to the spiritual realm and healing any barriers that might exist so that love exudes and radiates from the core of every being.




Sin. By Sholeh Wolpe

When I write, I connect to a well so deep within that at some point I have to transcend myself. By that, I mean we are ultimately connected to one another and to an invisible world, accessible through a tireless, incessant searching that begins by going inward and eventually leads to what is no longer ourselves, but a collective self. The currency of the poet is truth. But truth is highly subjective. It manifests itself in different forms and textures. The function of the poet, in my opinion, is offering one or more perspectives to view the same “truth”. A good poet does that in an authentic, skillful way that goes right to the heart. This is the poet’s gift to humanity. –Sholeh Wolpe.

Of Leaving

Today’s news is
wrapped around
tomorrow’s dead fish.
Could it be that all windows
open to fiction while reality
burns in our stoves?
Time chimes in gods’ bell-towers,
and bottled sunlight gathers dust in caves
where humanity steeps in sour dreams of a savior.
Death is a bearded vagrant pushing a cartful
of lemon-yellow waning moons, and love is but a shadow
of itself, core-less and crumbling, like purity.
And God? God is always leaving, leaving
no footnotes to the commands He so lovingly leaves.

The flags

Who sews the coffin flags of fallen soldiers?
A roomful of women, fingers bloodied
in grief, in haste?
Or an efficient factory machine—
a flag per minute?

The Exiles

Look how the foamy-mouthed sea
licks its own shores,
splashes and rolls
furious in its coming to reclaim
its fish circling death’s tanks
in crowded cafes.
The sea comes, it comes
but does not arrive…
as we never arrive
no matter how intent
we are to liberate our kin
from hungry bearded serpent gods,
window-starved rooms,
from under voice-proof veils.
Our tongues lick time’s spiny slates,
bleed saliva flavored with abstractions:
“injustice”, “violations”, “freedom”,
our eyelashes thrash in indignation,
and our eyes claim pain…
but like the sea, we keep coming
fiercely, and never arrive.

Sholeh Wolpe

Sholeh Wolpé is an award-winning poet, literary translator and writer. Born in Iran, she has lived in England, Trinidad and the United States. She is the author of two collections of poetry Rooftops of Tehran (Red Hen Press, 2008), and The Scar Saloon (Red Hen Press, 2004),, and a book of translations, Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad (University of Arkansas Press, 2007)— for which she was awarded the Lois Roth Translation Prize in 2010. Sholeh is a regional editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East edited by Reza Aslan (W.W. Norton, 2010), the editor of 2010 Iran issue of the Atlanta Review which became the journal’s bestselling edition, and the editor of an upcoming anthology of poems from Iran, The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and its exiles (University of Michigan State Press, 2011.) She is also a contributing editor of Los Angeles Review of Books and the poetry editor of the Levantine Review, an online journal about the Middle East. Sholeh’s poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and been translated into several languages. She has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize and been featured on NPR, Voice of America and Dodge Poetry Festival. Sholeh holds Masters degrees in Radio-TV-Film (Northwestern University) and Public Health (Johns Hopkins University). She lives in Los Angeles.


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