Sholeh Wolpé performs The Conference of the Birds // UNSWriting

When:7 Sep 2018, 7pm - 9pm
Venue:Io Myers Studio, UNSW Kensington Campus
Who:Poet and Playwright Sholeh Wolpe
Sholeh Wolpe

Presented by UNSWriting
Introduced by Laetitia Nanquette

Book Now

Can literature save the world? According to celebrated 12th century Iranian Sufi mystic poet, Attar, it is not the world that needs saving, rather it is we who are in dire need of rescue—from the clutches of our own ego, that “cyclone of calamities.”

Sholeh Wolpé accompanied by musician Siavash Sadr on the santoor presents her poems and selections from her translation of The Conference of the Birdsin an uplifting performance that moves the soul.

Khosro Yasoii // Tar
Keyvan Karegar // Tonbak
Farzad Mesri // Dad
Siavash Sadr // Santoor

Shelf Awareness Magazine writes, “A gifted Iranian-American poet beautifully explores love and the loss of love, beauty and war and the ghosts of the past.” Wolpé’s modern translation of The Conference of the Birds has been hailed by Reza Aslan as a translation that “is sure to be as timeless as the masterpiece itself.”

The Conference of the Birds is a brilliant story about our human struggle, both physical and spiritual. It is peppered with beguiling parables that not only guide and instruct, but also entertain. Sufi mystic poet Rumi considered Attar his master, calling him “the spirit” and himself “its shadow.” He wrote:

Attar traveled through all the seven cities of love

While I am only at the bend of the first alley.

To this day, the beauty and wisdom of Attar’s The Conference of the Birds remains unsurpassed. This book may not be able to change the world, but its magic is an antidote to the bitterest ego-concocted poison of our times: extremism.

A Masterclass with Sholeh Wolpé
Found in Translation – A generative workshop

Thursday 6 September, 4 - 6pm
Colombo Building, Room LG02

Register Now

Words are only music in a language you don’t understand. Meaning changes when you don’t know the culture from which a poem comes from. We often hear the phrase “Lost in Translation” because it is easy to fail a poem, its music and meaning in the act of moving it from one language and culture to another. Hence, a good translation is often a re-creation. But what if we took a poem in its original form and let it inspire us? Take us to a place we might otherwise never go?

In this workshop we will examine “Windup Doll,” a beautiful poem by the iconic 20th Century Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. You will listen to a recording of her reading (in Persian) and follow the poem in transliteration along with its word-by-word translation. You will then be guided to write a creative translation of the poem, letting it slowly carry you into your own subconscious, until the poem becomes yours.

Poems generated in this workshop will be considered for an anthology of poems based on Farrokhzad’s Windup Doll.

Sholeh Wolpe
Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet and writer. A recipient of the 2014 PEN Heim 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, Wolpé ’s literary work includes four collections of poetry, two plays, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Her most recent publications include The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Co), Cómo escribir una canción de amor (Olifante Ediciones de Poesia, Spain), and Keeping Time With Blue Hyacinths (University of Arkansas Press.) Wolpé ’s writings have been translated into eleven languages and included in numerous American and international anthologies and journals of poetry and fiction, and featured on programs such as Selected Shorts and Public Radio International.

Wolpé has performed her poems and translations with world-renowned musicians at Quincy Jones Presents series on Broad Stage, Skirball Cultural Center Series, Los Angeles Aloud, and LACMA stage, among others. She travels internationally as a poet and public speaker, and has taught poetry and literary translation at UCLA and University of Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. Wolpé is the 2018 inaugural Author in Residence at the University of California, Los Angeles where she also teaches as Visiting Associate Professor.


Siavash Sadrwas

Siavash Sadrwas born in 1986 in Shiraz, Iran. He began music at an early age with tonbak (drum) and then santoor. In 2006, he won the first award in the Music festival of southern Iran. In 2012, he graduated in music from Shiraz University. In 2011 Siavash released a santoor solo album called ‘Pareh Siavashan’.





Laetitia Nanquette

Laetitia Nanquette is a Senior Lecturer and Australia Research Council DECRA Fellow in the School of the Arts and Media. She works on contemporary Iranian literature and frequently travels to Iran for research fieldworks. She also translates contemporary Persian literary texts.





UNSW Bookshop

Sholeh Wolpé's books will be available at 10% off the RRP courtesy of the UNSW Bookshop on the night.

Visit the UNSW Bookshop online.


Cultivating flows of ideas and good writing
Connecting writers, publishers and students
Offering special events, workshops and public talks

Director of UNSWriting
Associate Professor, Anne Brewster
Contact //

Find out more
Sign up to the UNSWriting mailing list to hear about upcoming events and opportunities here.
Hear recordings of previous UNSWriting events here

Finding us

Io Myers Studio is located at the entrance to Gate 2 High St, Kensington. Look for the Creative Practice Lab neon sign in our foyer windows.

There is limited parking in the Gate 2 area around Io Myers Studio but free parking is available from 6:30pm in the car park next to NIDA accessed through Day Ave.

More information on getting to UNSW.
Download a campus map.  (PDF)

Produced by UNSW Creative Practice Lab

View Past Events
Join our Newsletters