Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

A Red Bicycle & Other Poems— Azita Ghareman

Aug 7, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments


A Red Bicycle

Image Used for Representation



I still dream
of my red bicycle
on the green shores of summer,
my unruly hair casting shadows on the water,
my school work peppered with grape pips.

Pulling away, growing up, was hard
in that weather of thorns and stones,
I let the bright shining marbles slip from my fingers, one by one.

No-one to play with, I sat by the side of the road,
my bicycle, rusty in the shed,
that green shore, a picture on the wall.


Wearing a poppy
leave behind those black clothes,
the flags of mourning,
the tired, disconsolate streets.
This is the only way forward.
Wearing your red flower
climb from between these handwritten lines,
turn from the empty space of this paper
and step into my memories.

Come! Meet me
in that shabby old house,
where now the pipes are rusty,
the shutters lost in ivy and long grass,
where cobwebs and whispers have
settled over everything,
where, after all these years,
sorrow is the only dustsheet.

Come back to me, hide your fears,
wearing your red flower, come back,
but take care that no one sees
you show me the path you took to Heaven.


I am younger in this photograph,
younger than anything I’ve ever written,
and I am the third missing person.

Inside me, undercover, my words were taking shape.
Like a moth waking from its cocoon into summer,
peering out from between my fingers,
from my hiding place, as a poet, I stepped out.

Keeping my heart well-hidden,
holding myself back a little
I sat exposed.
In the darkness I searched for that merciless tree
and maybe the trace of a green rope.
For you must remember Ghazaleh?

I am younger in this photograph,
younger than my own shadow.
Anything that I could not write
I disguised, hiding myself in my daughter,
losing myself in my mother.
We sought relief in the first sign of spring rain
but my heart will always ache with the loss of these women.
For you must remember Nazanin?

Those days were crazier than any war,
an almost-silence
where words were whispered fearfully
under an old army blanket.
Only poetry could hold us close,
when it wasn’t lost for words itself.
Between the shape-shifting letters

peeped a child’s face,
the writing all disjointed and hard to decipher.
Between winter and summer
the overcast skies pushed us apart.
Between the road that twisted around my neck
and the words that took fire in your mouth,

I don’t think that you remember me?

With a pair of scissors,
I trim away all shadows from the image
clothing us afresh for Spring.
Your lines were another new beginning,
and poetry the only fresh clothes that I knew,
a love that was more beautiful than ever.

We are strangely young in this picture,
our heads resting against one another,
intimate, affectionate – there I am.

In this stained old black and white negative
with our enormous, fixed smiles,
we faced the world, standing tall.


All the different men and women I have been,
the sleep that has seen my dreams
your dreams that I have lived out,

every sadness that stays with me so that I weep
songs, hidden melodies, zephyrs
that are the music of my life,

every woman I have ever been
blown from place to place by the wind,
your eyes, so many faces,
your face, my eyes,

every shape that I have ever taken
stones, birds, trees,
every tree, bird, stone that I have ever been,

every snowfall,
every ocean that has swilled through you,
every different road that I have walked, my footsteps,
the footsteps of others and each of your roads too,

all the songs that I have sung
through your mouth
into the face of every woman, every man that I have been.

Also, read The Last Sun and Other Poems by Anamika Anu, translated from the Hindi by Dipanwita Bhattacharyya and published in The Antonym:

The Last Sun and Other Poems— Anamika Anu

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Azita Ghareman

Azita Ghareman

Azita Ghahreman is an Iranian poet, writer and translator. She was born in 1962 in Mashhad and she has lived in Sweden since 2006. Azita’s poems have been translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Turkish, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese, Swedish, French and English.  Her most recently selected poems Negative of a group photograph came out in London 2018 by Bloodaxe publication. Azita’s books been nominated for some awards in literature and the poetry. Russian and Ukrainian translations of her poems were awarded the Udmurtia Russian Academy’s little Ludvig Nobel Prize in 2014. A dual-language Farsi-English edition Negative of a group photograph, translated by Maura Dooley with Elhum Shakerifar, was shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2019.


Elhum Shakerifar, Maura Dooley

Maura Dooley (born in 1957) is a British poet and writer. She has published five collections of poetry and edited several anthologies. She is the winner of the Eric Gregory Award in 1987 and the Cholmondeley Award in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize (single poem) in 1997 and again in 2015. Her poetry collections Life Under Water (2008) and Kissing A Bone (1996) were shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.

Elhum Shakerifar is a writer and translator, most recently PEN Award winning, Warwick Prize nominated Negative of a Group Photograh by Azita Ghahreman, translated alongside poet Maura Dooley (Bloodaxe Books, 2018). She is currently one of Writerz & Scribez’ inaugural poetry ‘Griots’. Elhum is also a BAFTA-nominated producer and curator working through her London-based company Hakawati (‘storyteller’ in Arabic). 



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