“In his new collection of poetry, Roger Sedarat strikes the perfect balance between Eastern and Western expression, between the modern and the medieval, and between the sacred and the profane. A delight on every page, one can’t help but imagine that if Hafez, Rumi, and other Sufi mystic poets — even Goethe — were transported to the twenty–first century, their tweets might read something like this.”
Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge
“Roger Sedarat’s Ghazal Games is an outstanding example of the genre.”
“Playfully, humorously, Sedarat confronts issues such as religious hypocrisy and dogma head on…. Though Ghazal Games may appear a broadly experimental endeavor at first, its tone and carefully crafted phraseology remain consistent throughout. It is an excellent educational tool for creative writers and, as the following selections demonstrate, a delightful read.”
Frontline, “Tehran Bureau”
“These poems are to be savored in their audacity — in turn witty, erotic, ludic, learned, engaged. Roger Sedarat’s ghazals bridge the form’s (and the poet’s) Persian sources to American demotic language, and open couplet windows on transnational reality.”
Marilyn Hacker, winner of the National Book Award and author of Names: Poems
As an Iranian American poet, Roger Sedarat fuses Western and Eastern traditions to reinvent the classical Persian form of the ghazal. For its humor as well as its spirituality, the poems in this collection can perhaps best be described as “Wallace Stevens meets Rumi.” Perhaps most striking is the poet’s use of the ancient ghazal form in the tradition of the classical masters like Hafez and Rumi to politically challenge the Islamic Republic of Iran’s continual crackdown on protesters. Not since the late Agha Shahid Ali has a poet translated the letter as well as the spirit of this form into English, using musicality and inventive rhyme to extend the reach of the ghazal in a new language and tradition.
Roger Sedarat is an assistant professor in the MFA program at Queens College. He is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as well as a St. Botolph Society poetry grant. His verse has appeared in such journals as New England Review, Atlanta Review, and Poet Lore.
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