On November 30th I attended the first annual Persian Poetry Night, which was hosted by the Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies. The night was going to consist of the students in the Persian language class reciting some pieces of poetry. While I walked to the event I thought about what I knew about Persian culture and poetry, after a quick analysis I understood I knew very little. What I knew about the culture was only a few things here and there through media and I held no accountability too, although I knew the basics about poetry and that was mostly from school. Either way I was excited to experience something new and completely foreign to me.
Upon arrival, as I walked into the packed hall I could smell sweet tea and a few other foreign smells that I could not distinguish. After some questioning and tasting I had discovered two new foods that I had never heard of. Stuffed Grape Leaves was my first discovery which I could only describe as a wrap with rice, beef, and assorted veggies which seemed to be cooked in different oils, IT WAS AWESOME by the way. It reminded me of a lettuce wrap but without the lettuce, if that makes sense? Second, was an absolutely delectable pastry with a flakey texture and a crunchy sweet center, this was all topped off with some hot tea.
After finding a seat,I began chatting to a couple next to me, after some small talk they told me their daughter was reading some poetry tonight. Expressing that she had worked very hard on this and so had the other students and that I should be excited because I was in for a treat. Then it began, around 30 or so students were reading tonight so it mostly back to back and in two different groups. The first group was the students who had not lived in or had a Farsi speaking household or background, the second were those who had these attributes. Of course the poetry was in Persian but was followed with a translation, which I have been told and from what I could feel did not give it justice. The first group was mostly what I expected from non-native speakers, but not to lower them in any way at all in fact was very captivating and moving. Oh but the teacher of the class who was in charge of the event was really excited with for second group and kept expressing that this was the real deal. It was with this group that I could really hear how the words just seem to merge and sound like a melody the words and sounds just flowed in a way that I was okay with the fact I could not understand.
Overall, I now know more about the culture and have a newfound respect for the Persian language and poetry. AND FOOD.