My 50-word piece on Shahrnush Parsipur was featured on the 26:50 site today. Here’s the thinking behind it.
I came across an interview she gave to an Iranian journalist when she was in London a few years ago. Apparently she stopped off at M&S on the way and bought a red dress. She liked the idea that it was OK to wear something a bit bright and garish, that made her stand out a bit if she chose.
This seemed such a simple liberty, but nevertheless it was one that had been denied in her home country, where women are expected to stand in the shadows. So I used this idea to start my 50 words.
Finding out more about her writing, I discovered that her work is surreal, dreamlike and often myth based, verging on magic realism. I decided to contrast her colourful imagination with the black pen of the censor that tried to repress it.
Parsipur is not an overtly political writer, she doesn’t even consider herself to be a feminist. But by exploring female sexuality and class in her society, she was seen to have stepped over a line. The red dress seemed to sum up both her bravery and her creativity.
Here’s what I wrote:
In exile she can wear red,
If she chooses.
At home all is black.
Black lines that strike out her words;
The abysmal black terror of another cell.
But still she writes in colour;
Bright, burning colour that knows no bounds
Free to fly wherever fancy takes it.