Art And Culture

Sepehri Poetry, Shakibai’s Voice

Traveler, one of Sepehri’s most popular poems, along with a number of other poems by the poet and painter, was among the last recitations by Shakibai
Sepehri Poetry, Shakibai’s VoiceSepehri Poetry, Shakibai’s Voice

The melodic voice of late Iranian actor Khosrow Shakibai recites the poems of Sohrab Sepehri in a new music album released on March 12.

Composed and arranged by composer Mohammad Reza Ahmadian, 57, the album is titled ‘Passenger’ based on a long poem ‘Traveler’ by Sepehri (1928-1980) which comprises 35 stanzas of various lengths, ISNA reported.

The album is sponsored by Sadroddin Hosseinkhani, founder and manager of IranGaam Record, a record label based in the capital’s Enqelab Street.

The traditional music ensemble ‘Shahnaz’ founded in 2008 by master musician, composer and vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, 76, has collaborated with composer Ahmadian in the tracks.

Traveler, one of Sepehri’s most popular poems, along with a number of other poems by the poet and painter, was among the last recitations by Shakibai (1944-2008) who had a unique melodic voice. Now nearly a decade after his demise, the recitations have been released for the first time.

Shakibai (1944-2008) was among the most accomplished stage and cinema actors of his generation. He studied acting at Faculty of Fine Arts, the University of Tehran. He began his stage career in 1963, and due to his exceptional voice, branched out his activities into film dubbing in 1968.

He found a considerable following for his voice, brought about through publication of the recordings of his readings of poems by luminaries of the modern Persian poetry. On July 18, 2008, he died of liver cancer in Tehran.

The album features piano by late Iranian Armenian composer, singer and pianist Andranik Arzumanian (1954-2010) and the late Ali Reza Khorshidfar (1947-2015) on contrabass.

Other musicians who have contributed to ‘Passenger’ are Homayoun Rahimian, 62, Arsalan Kamkar, 56, Khachik Babaian, 61 and Ebrahim Lotfi, 50, on violin; Siavash Zahiroddini, 66, on viola; and Karim Qorbani, 59, on cello.

Ahmadian has also played synthesizer in the album the recording of which was done at Studio Bell in Tehran, established in 1965.


Traveler was composed in 1966, one year after Sepehri wrote his famous poem ‘The Water’s Footsteps.’

Author and literary scholar Sirous Shamisa, 69, considers Traveler as “a personal poem.” Unlike The Water’s Footsteps that he composed for his mother, Traveler has a personal tone.

The poem may refer to the poet’s different journeys; but like Sepehri’s other poems, it has a mystical layer, according to Asghar Seyed Gohrab, 49, associate professor of Persian Language and Literature at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Leiden University in the Netherlands.

In Shamisa’s opinion, Traveler and The Water’s Footsteps, together with a famous poem by Forough Farrokhzad (1935-1967) titled ‘Let Us Believe in the Dawning of the Cold Season,’ enjoy the reputation of having consolidated the quality of modern Persian poetry.

Translator, editor, lexicographer and literary critic Karim Emami (1930-2005) who was the first one to translate Traveler into English, “even reading the poem is demanding, requiring readers to join the poet in a difficult journey of spiritual and artistic self-realization.”


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