Bahar Davary presented a paper entitled 'Sohrab Sepehri: A Muslim-Zen eco-critic' at the CAIS conference - Three Languages - Three Cultures: Narratives from the Middle East on Thursday, 22 November.
Reflecting on the poetry of the best-selling contemporary Iranian poet, Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), this paper discusses the notion of the responsibility of the poet in regards to issues of justice and dissent, positioning the debate in the context of Plato’s critique of poetry, and of poets. The paper will discuss Sepehri’s mindfulness of nature, and his attention to the divine-human-animal-plant-mineral connectedness, and to maintenance of harmonious relationship.
For Sepehri, the harmony in nature bears a sacrality that unmistakably points to the Transcendence. He is a modernist, and a modern mystic, rooted in Islamic contemplative tradition, influenced by Rumi; and touched by eastern traditions (such as Zen, Advaita Vedanta, and Taoism). This paper elaborates on particular selections of his Hasht Ketab, namely, ‘seday-e pa-ye ab’; Water’s Footfall, and a collection entitled ‘hajme sabz’; the Green Immense, in order to contextualise his work as a lyrical ecocritic, avant lettre.
Bahar Davary is Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, and the affiliate faculty for the Kroc School for Peace 2016/2017. She received her PhD. from the Catholic University of America in Catholic Theological Tradition and Muslim-Christian Dialogue. She teaches courses on World Religion; Islamic Faith and Practice; Islam, Women, and Literature. Her research interests and published work are focused on Women in interpretations of the Qur’an, Muslim-Christian Dialogue, and Islam and ecology. Her book Women and the Qur’an: An Islamic Hermeneutic (2009) examines classical interpretations of the Qur’an, focusing on the development, continuity, and change in the portrayal of woman and the ways in which the commentaries affect the self-perception of Muslim women.