Pooneh Nedai bridges Korean, Iranian literatures
By Chung Ah-young
After Korean epic dramas such as “The Jewel in the Palace” and “Jumong” became big hits on Iranian television, the country began reaching out not only to Korean pop culture but also its literature. The Korean book section at the recent Tehran International Book Fair, which ended on May 14 in Tehran, drew many Iranian visitors, showing their avid interest in Korea.
Behind the phenomenon lies Iranian poet and publisher Pooneh Nedai’s efforts to bridge the two cultures with her literary exchanges to introduce Korean literature to her native country.
Her recent translation of the Korean book “Point Story” written by Kang Woo-hyon, CEO of Nami Island, an illustrated essay, came into spotlight at the Iranian book fair and further ignited the interest in Korean literature there.
“Point Story” is a tale about inspiration and creativity as one single tiny point goes through a life of transformations, making friends and becoming part of the world.
In the book, just a person or a flower can be seen as the point. The sun, the moon, the stars and even people’s minds are like points in the universe. The book shows how many imaginative points gather and transform themselves into a newly created point in the context of Persian culture and history. The points and lines of Oriental black ink meet the Persian touch and the publication has touched the minds and sparked the creativity of Iranians.
Nedai met Kang for the first time in 2010, when she went to Nami Island to write her diary about Korea. “What made me enthusiastic to translate and publish ‘Point Story’ in Iran, was the discovery of an artist with clean thoughts who uses all the capacity of his mind and soul. Oneness of soul and thought in Kang made me do something in order to glorify these global activities especially for children through UNICEF. My goal was to make Iranian artists and audiences familiar with Kang’s ‘philosophy of point,’to see how a human on another part of planet has many common points with the Iranian soul and viewpoint,” she writes in the book.
“‘Point Story’ is an intelligent tale of creatures in a universe which is narrated by illustration. Nothing in his universe is stable except God. The point transforms into a line so it is not a point any more. A line transforms into new lines, so it is not the same line. Nothing in the world is so worthy to depend on, except the oneness of the universe. Eternity has meaning through oneness,” she added.
Before “Point Story,” in 2009, the Iranian poet translated Korean folk tales, including 37 pieces, such as the widely known story of “Emille Bell,” similar to Iranian sentiment, into the Persian book “Chung, Hyo, Ye,” (Loyalty, Filial Piety, Manners). The book was the first of its kind to be published in Iran.
She has recently published a collection of poems “In Silence” in English. The collection includes her trademark poems “Secretly,” “Death of a Desire,” “The Sea, The Bird” and “Shadows of Words.”
Born in 1974 in Tehran, Nedai studied English literature. Known as a representative Iranian feminist poet, she has been active in raising awareness about women in Iran through various activities and literary works.
Nedai is president and editor-in-chief of Shokaran Magazine based in Tehran and the president of Amroud Publications. She has visited Korea several times at the invitation of the Korean Culture and Information Service.
She wrote four books of poetry in Persian and three books of poetry translated into Arabic, Armenian and Turkish (all printed in Iran) and two new books of poetry have been published in German and Arabic.
Nedai has worked not only as a prolific author but also as a journalist. She served as founder, manager and editor-in-chief of Negah-e-Tazeh, the first university-students journal after the Iranian Revolution, and correspondent and editor-in-chief of art and literature of several news agencies and newspapers.
In 1999, she read out her essay “The Progressive Movement of Iranian Female Writers of the Revolution” in the Sorbonne University Paris to the Fourth Conference of European Iranophiles.
In 2007, she lectured about “Iranian Women beyond Self-confidence” in Seoul and read out her essay “History of Bio Environmental Journalism in Iran” to the AJA (Asian Journalists Association) forum in Korea in 2008.