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Between Lives

“The voice of Nilofar Shidmehr’s poetry moves restlessly between two imagined lives: one, a life rooted in the past and in Iran, a life of strict gendered expectations but also of continuity and familiarity; the other, a life in Canada, relatively uncompromised by gender segregation, but yet still troubled by the pain of exile and others’ prejudice. These poems speak plainly of mothers, of daughters, of lovers, but always beneath each simple story is the pulse of an intelligent, sensous desire. These poems are feminist, moist, fragrant! Each word bursts, ripe in the mouth, like pomegranate.”

~Sonnet L’Abbé (Canadian Poet and Critic, Winner of Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, 2000)

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“The voice of Nilofar Shidmehr’s poetry moves restlessly between two imagined lives: one, a life rooted in the past and in Iran, a life of strict gendered expectations but also of continuity and familiarity; the other, a life in Canada, relatively uncompromised by gender segregation, but yet still troubled by the pain of exile and others’ prejudice. These poems speak plainly of mothers, of daughters, of lovers, but always beneath each simple story is the pulse of an intelligent, sensous desire. These poems are feminist, moist, fragrant! Each word bursts, ripe in the mouth, like pomegranate.”

~Sonnet L’Abbé (Canadian Poet and Critic, Winner of Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award, 2000)

“In this stirring collection Between Lives, Shidmehr’s direct voice and unflinching gaze put her among such great activist poets as Martin Espada, Dionne Brand, and Pablo Neruda. With a clear gaze and arresting imagery. Shidmeher brings to light the violence and injustice of women’s lives in Iran and in the diaspora. Fully wrought and deeply personal, this is a necessary book by an accomplished writer.

~Elizabeth Bachinsky, nominee for Governor General’s Award for English-language poetry

“These poems are the untold stories of contemporary Persian women’s lives, lives portrayed with intimacy and lyricism, despite their subjugation. These are poetics meditations that only a poet simultaneously intimate with a place, and exiled from it, can offer. In this book, men and women are like ‘fire and cotton,’ and must be kept apart; they are ‘flammable with the slightest spark.’ Nilofer Shidmehr’s poems burn with a fierce, haunting fire.
~Rachel Rose, winner Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry

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about the author

Nilofar Shidmehr

Nilofar Shidmehr is an Iranian-Canadian poet, writer and a scholar of arts-based qualitative research focused on poetic inquiry. Her first book of poetry in English Shirin and Salt Man was nominated for a BC Book Prize in 2009 and her first book of poetry in Farsi Two Nilofars: Before and After Migration has received worldwide recognition among the expatriate Iranian community. Nilofar is a cultural and educational activist and a part of the Iranian women’s movement. Nilofar earned a PhD in education and an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Her next scholarly project is to investigate how the lyrical and performative modes of inquiry can be included in discourse analysis, literary criticism, and critical reading and writing practices to integrate and advance literacy. Her next creative project is to write a collection of short stories about the lives of Iranians in Iran and Canada. She lives in Yaletown with her husband.

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