Haleh Liza




in songs, poems,& translations




Anahita is the ancient Persian goddess of the waters, the source and keeper of the waters.  She's often pictured with two lions by her side and eight rays of sunshine beaming out of her mind.  Reverence for the water was deeply ingrained in ancient Persian culture, and though they were eventually reassigned to other entities, it seems many of the shrines built besides springs and waterways, were originally dedicated to her, to honoring the spirit of care and reverence, healing and wisdom she represented.  This song is dedicated to water keepers past and present. 



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I was in the pine forests of Maine one summer in June.  On the day I arrived, I looked out on the lake and saw specks of something all over the water.  Still in my urban mindset, I assumed it was pollution of some kind.  I was so relieved when someone told me it was pine pollen.  The tiny specks were everywhere and I discovered that beyond birthing pines, the pollen also nourishes the fish and the animals, even gets some of them a little more pumped up to mate.  So this is my ode to pine pollen, and a love letter to existence. 

I've been translating poems by the Persian mystical poet Rumi.  I'm focusing on ghazals from his book Divan-i-Shams, and working from the original text.   It's an incredible and awe-inspiring process to dive into these poems, to hear the the music and rhythm of the lines over and over, to discuss the meanings with my mother and other Persian scholars, to let the poems to work through me, medicinal and transformative as they are, and then to  transmit their meanings into English, to return to them, re-hear, re-see, re-write, and finally recite them.  I feel them in my flesh and bones.  

The American Dream (on steroids), in a neighborhood where the lust for acquisition has been so strong, and where an eerie emptiness is ironically so palpable.