Ghazal Mimi Khalvati Essays

Mimi Khalvati is an Iranian-born British poet.

Life and career[edit]

She was born in Tehran, Iran in 1944. She grew up on the Isle of Wight and was educated in Switzerland at the University of Neuchâtel, and in London at the Drama Centre and the School of Oriental and African Studies.

She then worked as a theatre director in Tehran, translating from English into Persian and devising new plays, as well as co-founding the Theatre in Exile group.

She now lives in London Borough of Hackney, and is a Visiting Lecturer at Goldsmiths College and a director of the London Poetry School.

Khalvati was 47 when her first book appeared in 1991.[1] Its title, In White Ink, derives from the work of Helene Cixous who claimed that women in the past have written "in white ink". Michael Schmidt observes that Khalvati is "formally a most resourceful poet".[2]

Khalvati is the founder of The Poetry School, running poetry workshops and courses in London, and is co-editor of the school's first two anthologies of new writing: Tying the Song and Entering The Tapestry. She is also tutor at the Arvon Foundation, and has taught creative writing at universities and colleges in the United States of America and Britain.


  • In White Ink (Carcanet Press,1991)
  • Mirrorwork (Carcanet Press, 1995)
  • Entries on Light (Carcanet Press, 1997)
  • Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, 2000)
  • The Chine (Carcanet Press, 2002)
  • The Meanest Flower (Carcanet Press, 2007)
  • Child: new and selected poems 1991-2011


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

KOCIEJOWSKI, Marius. God's Zoo: Artists, Exiles, Londoners (Carcanet, 2014) contains a biographical chapter "Tehran in Stoke Newington - Mimi Khalvati, Vuillard and the Stone of Patience".

Mimi Khalvati at the British Library 12 April 2011
Mimi Khalvati at King's College London Shakespeare Festival February 2016
  1. ^Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p. 858. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.
  2. ^Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p. 859.

Let them be, the battles you fought, in silence.
Bury your shame, the worst you thought, in silence.

At last my Beloved has haggled with death.
'One more day' was the pearl she bought in silence.

At night she heard the blacksmith hammering chains,
at dawn the saw, the fretwork wrought in silence.

'The only wrong I've done is to live too long,'
my Beloved's eyes tell the court in silence.

She's as young as the month of Ordibehesht,
month of my birth, spring's mid-leap caught in silence.

My Beloved, under the shade of a palm,
was the girl, the mother I sought in silence.

Loneliness is innumerate. Days slip by,
suns rise that daylight moons distort in silence.

The bell on her wrist was silent, her fingers
ice cold as the julep she brought in silence.

'Mimijune! Mimijune!' My Beloved's voice
climbs three steep notes for tears to thwart in silence.

Three syllables of equal weight, equal stress,
dropped in a well, keep falling short in silence.

About this poem:
"I wrote this poem as an elegy for my mother who died suddenly at the age of 92, after a night and a day in hospital. Living in England, I had been separated from her since childhood, but after the Iranian revolution my mother left Iran and settled in London, where we became very close. This is the first ghazal in which I have tried to observe, along with the requisite rhyme and refrain (qafia and radif), the disjunctive nature of the couplets. The suffix june/jan is commonly used as a term of endearment in Farsi, meaning dear, dearest, darling, but also life or soul."

Mimi Khalvati

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