The big world of small and seemingly unnoticeable details of Zoya Pirzad

Translated by poet, translator and journalist Gevorg Asatrian, the collection of poems entitled “Like All Evenings” by renowned Iranian-Armenian writer Zoya Pirzad has been released.

In an interview with Hayern Aysor, the translator presented the author and reflected on her poems.

Hayern Aysor: Mr. Asatrian, Zoya Pirzad is famous in Iran and in other countries, but it seems as though very few people in Armenia know her and her literature…

Gevorg Asatrian: You’re right, but how would they know if the poems haven’t been translated or published? However, Armenian literary figures now know her as a famous writer. It’s safe to say that Zoya Pirzad is the “business card” of contemporary Iranian literature in Europe and, in general, in the whole world. If Iranian prose is now a “product” that is sought abroad as, say, Iranian cinema, it is also thanks to our gifted compatriot. Iranians consider her a classic writer, and it’s not by chance that her poems have been published several times, without any exceptions. For instance, her novel “I’ll Turn Off the Lights” was recently published in Iran for the 53rd time according to Armenia’s standards. It’s incredible. Another impressive statistic is that in terms of copies, prose writer Zoya Pirzad’s poems are only behind the Koran and the king of Persian poetry Hafez in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The most important thing is that she is the youth’s idol. Young readers wait impatiently for the release of her next book. Zoyad has also won almost all the high literary awards in Iran. The novel “I’ll Turn Off the Lights” has been acknowledged as Best Book of the Year and has received a state award. It’s not by chance that Zoya Pirzad was recently granted the “Knight” Literary Order by the French government for her great merit and outstanding achievements in literature (all the author’s works have been translated into French). Pirzad’s poems have been translated into almost all languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Norwegian, Serbian, Chinese, Japanese and even Turkish and Georgian. Zoya Pirzad is also a famous translator in Iran. Her translations of the books “Louise Carol”, “Alice in Wonderland” and classic Japanese poems have been released and published several times.

Hayern Aysor: Now Armenians will also read those poems thanks to your translation…

G. A.: Unfortunately, in terms of knowing and especially appreciating our compatriot, we Armenians are behind the Turks and the Georgians. However, for the sake of truth, I must say that I started translating Pirzad’s poems about six years ago, but didn’t have the chance to publish them. I’ve translated almost all the poems by the Persian language writer, including the poems in the collection entitled “Like All Evenings” (this has already been printed), the collections of the novels entitled “Before Easter”, “Ttpi Khurma” and the novel “I’ll Turn Off the Lights”. I’ll soon start translating the latest novel called “We Adapt”, which has already been translated into several languages.

Hayern Aysor: Who are Zoya Pirzad’s heroes? How would you describe his poems?

G. A.: The heroes in Pirzad’s poems are average people, mainly women who seek their role and place in the family, in life and in society. Pirzad is a great master in creating female characters. Interestingly, almost all of her heroines look at the world through their kitchen windows, but they’re not just passive observers…The heroes-Armenians or Persians-have a dream to see a kinder, more beautiful, more perfect and more moral world…

Hayern Aysor: Perhaps you can provide us with her biography.

G. A.: Of course I can. Zoya Pirzad was born in 1952 in the once Armenian-populated Iranian city of Abadan. In her poems she often reflects on her hometown-a small, coastal city, as well as the environment in which she lived and grew up. She went to the local Aghab Armenian School. She is a mother of two sons. She is currently based in Yerevan. She has a hard time leaving Armenia, especially when she has to…As demanding and meticulous as she is in her career, she is as simple and straightforward in human relations, just like her poems-simple and straightforward…But let’s not forget that her poems are simple and ordinary only at first sight…It takes hard work to create simple poems, so simple that the layman can easily confuse it with simplicity. Every time I talk about Pirzad’s poems, I have to recall Tumanyan’s words in response to critics who blame Pirzad for being a simple and ordinary writer. Tumanyan would say one achieves simplicity by working hard…I must also say that Pirzad is a great master in showing details. This is one of the ways of describing her literature. Pirzad tries to recognize the world around her with small and unnoticeable details. The poet’s speech is also simple and homely, and that makes it hard for translators to translate her poems. After all, the space between simple and primitive is very short…I must say that Pirzad introduced a new language, new speech, new themes and a new way of telling a story to portray the reality. Excuse me, I was talking about the poet’s biography, but I was also surprised to see myself make the transition to her career…This transition from biography to literature is not by chance. Zoya Pirzad is like the poems that she writes…

Interview by Gevorg Chichyan


Gevorg Asatrian moved from Iran to Armenia when he was 10 years old. He attended the Nairi Armenian School in Tehran and continued his studies at School N 28 after Petros Duryan in Gyumri, Armenia. After serving in the Soviet army, he got accepted to and graduated from the Faculty of Philology of Yerevan State University as a qualified philologist-translator. He has worked for print and electronic newspapers, including “Avant-garde” newspaper, “Hayastani Ashkhatavoruhi” magazine (head of department), the editorial staff for propaganda of the State Committee on Television and Radio of Armenia (editor, senior editor), office of the editor-in-chief of social-political and youth programs for the National Radio (editor-in-chief), etc. Since 1998, he has been serving in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia. He is a Deputy Colonel. During his military service, he has held the positions of Head of Division of the Department of News and Propaganda of the Ministry of Defense and later Head of the Press Department. Since 2005, he has been working as deputy editor-in-chief of the “Armenian Soldier” (Hai Zinvor) official newspaper of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia. Alongside military service, he teaches “Study of Analytical Texts” and “Theory and Practice of Translation” in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Yerevan State University. Booklets of his translations have been released, including his translations of several children’s works by Iranian authors under the title “Three Apples”. He has been praised for his translation of the 5th century fables “Kalila and Dimna”. Later, he drafted, translated and printed the large-scale collection entitled “Persian National Fairy Tales”, for which he received the high state award of the Islamic Republic of Iran and was recognized winner of the Best Book of the Year International Awards in 2012. Asatrian has also translated the play “Love Poems about Death” by M. Charmshir and the play “Wall” by A. Naderi, which have been released in the collection entitled “Contemporary Iranian Plays”.

Gevorg Asatrian will soon release the illustrated collection of the best children’s short stories and fairy tales by modern Iranian writers with the title “Seven Dreams of a Crow”. Gevorg Asatrian is also preparing to print Zoya Pirzad’s second collection of short novels entitled “Before Easter”. Several works of the translator have been published in the Armenian language textbooks and reading books for fourth, fifth and sixth grade students in Armenia.

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