Poet Ali Zarrin muses on America in 'The
Book of I'
JEN GRAVES; The News Tribune
Sept. 11, 2001, Ali Zarrin felt that people began to see a resemblance between
him and a hijacker, and the old fear crept back into his heart.
finds American foreign policy hypocritical but is increasingly afraid to say so
for fear of being labeled anti-American or worse.
"Coming from Iran, where
there was a secret police and an inquisition, it's like déjà vu," Zarrin said.
"Stifled, stagnation, strangulation. In a sense, I think the terrorists have
won. We're living in fear."
Zarrin, a poet, has been an American
citizen since 1976, six years after he immigrated from Iran, where his
friends have been arrested and fellow poets silenced. He will read from his new
book, "The Book of I," at Tacoma's Antique Sandwich Company at 7 p.m.
Before Sept. 11, he wrote the poem
that made his name, "Made You Mine, America," a tale of his immigration
that was anthologized in collections of Asian American
Book of I" is more critical of his adopted country.
it isn't accepting cynicism as an option," said Tacoma poet and artist Dean
Brink, who organized the monthly Open Mic for Peace and Social Justice at the
Antique Sandwich Company, and who invited Zarrin. The two met when Zarrin was
completing his Ph.D. at the University of Washington.
Zarrin, a father of two teenage sons, lives in Littleton, Colo., and
teaches world literature at Regis
University in Denver. His early poetry
was influenced by Persian classical writers such as Rumi, Hafez and Khayyam, but
soon after he came to the United States, he met American beat
poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence
echoes of Ginsberg's "Howl" sound behind Zarrin's exclamatory "Made You Mine,
America" and "The Book of
can't turn me down/I gave you my youth/walking and driving Colfax nights long/I
came with hate/but now/I love you/ America."
Those are the final lines of "Made
You Mine." "The Book of I" shouts: "Quit making everyone white!/Making everyone
in the world think like you!/America, you let everyone be who they
Zarrin is against the war in Iraq and
questions why the United States is allied with Saudi Arabia, where women have
fewer rights than they do in "Axis of Evil" Iran, he said. He is chilled by what
he sees as an ongoing civil war over American ideology between fundamentalists
he has not been to Iran in 32
"This is the only home I know," he
said. "There is no home to go back to. ... I'm a poet, and I want to talk about
poetry, but I have to talk about politics. It's the
What: Reading by poet Ali
Antique Sandwich Company,
5102 N. Pearl St.,
(Published 2:35AM, March 2nd,