Mana Aghaee was born in 1973 in Bushehr, Iran. She began writing poetry as a teenager and her work has appeared in several Iranian publications. She has translated numerous works of modern Swedish writers into Persian. She holds a doctorate degree in Iranian languages from Uppsala University, Sweden. She is the author of three collections of poetry, In the Duration of Flight (1991), If Death Had Your Lips (2003), and I, Jesus My Own Son (2006). During the Iran-Iraq War, she immigrated with her family to Stockholm, where she currently resides.
Mana Aghaee is among the most prolific and accomplished poets of the Iranian diaspora. Her poetry is sincere and easy to understand. Mana's language is simple and unadorned and yet extremely imaginative. She doesn't attempt to conceal her vulnerabilities through complicated imagery or complex concepts -- her poetry is true to itself. She writes, "For me, poetry is like a siren raiding in matters of urgency. Poetry is a friend, a foe, a potent poison, and an intense tranquilizer alleviating my pain. Poetry is a lover who can commit an abrupt act of betrayal. I admit that poetry is a lover whom I love only for myself." There is no place for lofty, embellished phrasing in her poetry; she masterfully combines colloquial and common language with poetic sentiments.
Aghaee approaches her craft on the basis of poetic concepts more so than poetic imagery, notes literary critic Mohmmad Akbarniaee. "Aghaee interprets and analyzes the world around her through concepts, and she definitely succeeds in this endeavor," he writes. Thematically, the majority of Aghaee's works are personal, though a number are fraught with profound social sentiments: "No Sir! / I'm from here / the ghetto neighborhoods of this very town / my jalopy's rental / and all I've got in this world are these very hands holding the wheel / a heart always at dead ends / and way too many miserable failures." Mana Aghaee currently resides in Sweden, where she is coediting a Persian anthology of poetry by the new generation of Iranian poets in exile.
--Translated by Sheema Kalbasi