Forugh Farrokhzad (January 5, 1935 – February 13, 1967) was an Iranian poet and film director. Forugh Farrokhzad is arguably one of Iran’s most influential female poets of the 20th century. She was a controversial modernist poet and an iconoclast.
Forugh (also spelled Forough) was born in Tehran to career military officer Colonel Mohammad Bagher Farrokhzad (originally from Tafresh city) and his wife Touran Vaziri-Tabar in 1935. The third of seven children (Amir, Massoud, Mehrdad, Fereydoun Farrokhzad, Pooran Farrokhzad, Gloria), she attended school until the ninth grade, then was taught painting and sewing at a girl’s school for the manual arts. At age sixteen she was married to Parviz Shapour, an acclaimed satirist. Farrokhzad continued her education with classes in painting and sewing and moved with her husband to Ahvaz. A year later, she bore her only child, a son named Kamyar Shapour (subject of A Poem for You).
Within two years, in 1954, Farrokhzad and her husband divorced; Parviz won custody of the child. She moved back to Tehran to write poetry and published her first volume, entitled The Captive, in 1955.
Farrokhzad, a female divorcée writing controversial poetry with a strong feminine voice, became the focus of much negative attention and open disapproval. In 1958 she spent nine months in Europe. After returning to Iran, in search of a job she met film-maker and writer Ebrahim Golestan, who reinforced her own inclinations to express herself and live independently. She published two more volumes, The Wall and The Rebellion before traveling to Tabriz to make a film about Iranians affected by leprosy. This 1962 documentary film titled The House is Black won several international awards. During the twelve days of shooting, she became attached to Hossein Mansouri, the child of two lepers. She adopted the boy and brought him to live at her mother’s house.
In 1964 she published Another Birth. Her poetry was now mature and sophisticated, and a profound change from previous modern Iranian poetic conventions.
At 4:30PM on February 13, 1967, Farrokhzad died in a car accident at age thirty-two. In order to avoid hitting a school bus, she swerved her Jeep, which hit a stone wall; she died before reaching the hospital. Her poem Let us believe in the beginning of the cold season was published posthumously, and is considered by some to be one of the best-structured modern poems in Persian.
Farrokhzad’s poetry was banned for more than a decade after the Islamic Revolution. A brief literary biography of Forough, Michael Hillmann’s A lonely woman: Forough Farrokhzad and her poetry, was published in 1987. Also about her is a chapter in Farzaneh Milani’s work Veils and words: the emerging voices of Iranian women writers (1992). Nasser Saffarian has directed three documentaries on her: The Mirror of the Soul (2000), The Green Cold (2003), and Summit of the Wave (2004).