Alireza Roshan

Five Poems from 'The Book of Absence' in Persian and English

Translation from Persian by Erfan Mojib and Gary Gach



اگر می‌گویم


یارم نیامده


When I write


it’s a sign

my beloved has not yet come


چیزی نیست

که مرا سرِ شوق بیاورد

جز تو

که تو هم نیستی


Nothing exists

in which I can find solace
except you

who never existed either



چگونه انکار کند آب را

چه کند شیشه

در آماج سنگ

جز شکستن؟


What fish

can dispute water?


What can glass do

targeted by a stone

except break?


یک فنجان چای

با تو

خاطره شد

هر فنجان

بی تو



A cup of tea

with you

became memory

Every cup

without you

became pee



زودتر از تو


تو زودتر از عطرت



Your perfume

came in

before you


You left

before your perfume





Alireza Roshan was born in Tehran in 1977, where he worked as a journalist, heading the Books Desk at Iran’s most popular reformist daily newspaper. Around 2008, he began publishing his poetry daily online, on sites such as Google Reader, Google+, and Facebook. In so doing, he gained fame as “a poet without a book,” yet he’d deny claims to being a precursor of Instapoetry. Erès published a French-Persian edition of his poetry in 2011, Jusqu’à toi combien de poèmes, with a second printing in 2013. In Tehran a selection was published as The Book of Nothingness. The selection here is his first publication in English.


To date his books in Persian include: Becoming You, Soveyda, The Dot & 19 Other Stories, Fade, Us, A Little Book of Love, Cage Poetry, Moonstone, and Leyli’s Shadow. Michel Manasse noted in European Journal (Brussels) that Alireza Roashan’s poems remind him of two classic Persian poets: Omar Khayyam and Sa’adi. Evident in his work are a Persian literary modernism, a Persian literary humanism that embraces studies of Western literature, and a Sufi perspective. He now lives and works in Izmir, Turkey. @alirezaroashan