Using a semiotic model of poetic change, Recasting Persian Poetry presents a critical history of the evolution of Persian poetry in modern Iran. Iran's contact with Europe in the nineteenth century produced largely imaginary ideas about European culture and literature. In a series of textual manoeuvres and cultural contestations, successive generations of Iranian intellectuals sought to recast the classical tradition in a mold at once modern and relevant to their concerns. In particular, Karimi proposes a revision of the view that sets the Modernist poet Nima Yushij as the single-handed inventor of 'New Poetry'. This view, he argues, has resulted in an exaggerated sense of the aesthetic gulf between the modernist poetry of Iran and classical Persian poetry. Through a number of close readings of works by Nima's predecessors, Karimi makes visible a century-old Persian poetic tradition with Nima as its culmination.
Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak is Professor of Persian Language, Literature and Culture, and Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Maryland's School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. He was previously Professor of Persian Language and Literature and Iranian Culture and Civilization at the University of Washington.