In Rooftops of Tehran Sholeh Wolpé condemns injustices through the highlighted experiences of others – especially women – by bringing into focus realities that are difficult to comprehend even from the safe distance of Anchorage, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, or London. Wolpé walks an internal-external tightrope that is made all the more powerful when held against the tidal tensions between Washington and Tehran. But the context is impossible to ignore, and largely because of the beauty Sholeh Wolpé draws from within it, Rooftops of Tehran is an uncommon achievement in contemporary American poetry – it is a book that actually matters.
–Jeremy Edward Shiok
Sholeh Wolpé’s Rooftops of Tehran is that truly rare event: an important book of poetry. Brushing against the grain of Persian-Islamic culture, she sings a deep affection for what she ruffles. Her righteous aversion to male oppression is as broad as the span from Tehran to LA, as deep as a wise woman’s heart. This is a powerful, elegant book.
—Richard Katrovas, author of Prague Winters and The Years of Smashing Bricks
In Sholeh Wolpé’s Rooftops of Tehran, an unforgettable cast of characters emerges, from the morality policeman with the poison razor blade to the crow-girls flapping their black garments, from the woman with the bee-swarm tattoo emerging from her crotch to the author as a young girl on a Tehran rooftop with a God’s eye view “hovering above a city / where beatings, cheating, prayers, songs, / and kindness are all one color’s shades.” Here is a delicious book of poems, redolent of saffron and stained with pomegranate in its vision of Iran and of the immigrant life in California. Wolpe’s poems are at once humorous, sad and sexy, which is to say that they are capriciously human, human even in that they dream of wings and are always threatening to take flight.
—Tony Barnstone, award winning poet and translator, author of The Golem of Los Angeles
A stark and wondrous journey through and beyond the worlds looming on top of the aching roofs of Tehran, the poems in this collection are as vibrant as they are brave. Sholeh Wolpé poetry proves to be rumination, prayer, song. This book is an irresistible unrest.
—Nathalie Handal, author of The Lives of Rain and co-editor of Language for a New Century: ContemporaryPoetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond