Welcome to another day of much-better-than-football action from the Poetry World Cup. To date, we’ve had 14 matches, well over 1000 votes, and (to the best of our knowledge) 0 biting incidents. Today’s match has all the signs of another high-scoring thriller, and it brings together two poets whose relationship with their home countries is, as facebook would put it, complicated.
Iranian poet Payam Feili ‘has a dozen collections of poetry that haven’t yet seen the light of day.’ As an openly gay writer, he has suffered from having his work blacklisted by the censors at Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Nogaam, an independent publisher based in London, are helping to translate Payam’s poems into English as part of a campaign to fight censorship. Our World Cup poem, ‘Eleven’, has been translated anonymously and is part of ‘White Field’, a collection of Payam’s love poetry in English translation.
Sharanya Manivannan was Malaysia’s representative in the 2012 Poetry Parnassus, and represents Malaysia again in our tournament despite leaving the country in 2007 with the feeling that ‘Malaysia was a burnt bridge.’ She was subjected to the ire of the Malaysian government after writing an open letter on the demolition of Hindu temples, and her decision to represent the country at Parnassus wasn’t made lightly. Understandably, Sharanya Manivannan’s poetry frequently explores states of exile, and she has written that ‘To be of the earth is to be of exile, that much I already know.’
I blossom, and I grow tall
O! Boy, tender is my torso
This dark Yalda night, upon a high wall
I delve into your solitude, I delve into you
Beneath the moonlight
Through that distant forest
Deep in that listless lake
I catch a glimpse of you in the stars…
~ Payam Feili
Poem for Clothes Left in Another Country
Sometimes you come back to me, invoked by accident
– a similar pigment, something almost kindred
in the way you absorbed the light – and I am
seduced, unstitched with the thought of you.
I come undone like a cascade of beads from the
broken filament of my memory…
~ Sharanya Manivannan
RESULT: Iran won by 17 votes
Editor’s note: If, for any reason, you’re unable to vote in the poll, please leave the name of the poem/country you’d like to vote for in the comments.