Fatemeh Ekhtesari is an Iranian poet, editor, human rights activist and midwife. She is part of the Iranian literary movement “Postmodern Ghazal”, seen as the most radical poetic movement in contemporary Iran, and has been chief editor of several literary magazines. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing explore issues of sexuality, religion, and gender, and the struggle for women’s rights.
Ekhtesari has published three collections of poetry in Iran and six other titles since moving into exile. Her first collection of poems was published in 2010 and was called Yek bahse feministi ghabl az pokhtane sibzaminiha (Feminist discussions before cooking potatoes). After it was discovered she had re-written omitted words by hand to avoid censorship, Iranian authorities banned distribution of the book. Her other two collections were titled Kenare Jadeye Farei (Beside the side track) and Montakhabi az Sher haye shad, be hamrahe chand axe yadegari (A Selection of Cheerful Poems with Some Memorable Pictures). Since she left Iran, she has published the poetry collection, Bote Bozorg (The Great Idol); two short shorty collections Shena kardan dar hozcheye acid (Swimming in the Acid Pool) and Tabar (Axe); two multi-genre books titled The dead who was dead, took a deep breath (38 days in EVIN’s solitary confinement) and Nazdiki; and a bilingual poetry collection Vi overlever ikke.
She was the chief editor of the postmodern magazine Hamin farad bud (It was just tomorrow) until it closed in 2008. She is currently the chief editor of the online literature magazine Independent Iranian Literature.
In her work as a women’s rights activist, Ekhtesari, typically explores womens issues, among them gender discrimination and domestic violence. She has also written numerous articles for websites like Radio Zamaneh, on issues ranging from the gendering of language, women’s sexual liberation to artistic freedom. Trained in media production, she has also made a feature-length documentary titled Unpublishable and 2 short documentary films, titled Still and The ways. Ekhtesari has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Jaleh Esfahani Prize at a poetry festival in London in 2013, and the Khorshid Prize in 2012, awarded to female Iranian poets.
In 2017, she was welcomed as an ICORN writer in residence by the Norwegian city of Lillehammer. Among her current projects, Ekhtesari will soon be publishing her second book in Norway, a bilingual Norwegian-Persian poetry collection. Her third Persian short story collection titled Ebi will also be out soon.
To learn more about Ekhtessari’s recent work, you can follow her on Instagram or on Twitter at @fatemeekhtesari.