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Blogging Iran: Politics and Poetry

April 12, 2008

Blogging is big in Iran. We already knew that from Technorati statistics on the prevalence of Farsi language blogs on the Web. But now comes a fascinating insight into what all those bloggers are blogging about.

This is what the Iranian blogosphere looks like, according to John Kelly – a Columbia University academic who isn’t joking when he tells audiences he thinks there isn’t a human phenomenon that can’t be reduced to a series of coloured dots.


Each dot represents a blog , and the bigger the dot the greater the number of links being made to that blog.

I’m surprised by the size of the conservative politics blogosphere and of the neighbouring religious blogosphere, which are jointly around the same size as the secular and reformist blogospheres.

Most surprising, however, is the equally large poetry blogosphere in the upper left hand quadrant.

John previewed this recently published research at the Media:Republic gathering in Los Angeles last month. And it was the size of the poetry blogosphere that got participants talking — I think most of the American and British participants felt slightly awed that Iranians were using the Web to create art on such a scale.

Some suggested that poetry had a long track record of morphing into radical politics. Someone else said they knew of U.S. groups looking at funding Iranian poetry bloggers as agents of change. At the time this sounded a bit fanciful to me. But thinking about it, history is littered with poets getting their hands dirty in politics, and John Kelly’s image makes the proximity of poetry and political reform blogospheres extremely clear.


Blogging in Iran dates back to 7 years ago when the first blog has been aired. Now we have about 500,000 active Persian blogs most of them devoted to culture and arts.
If you want to learn more about the Persian culture, arts and sciences from antiquity to the modern days of 21st century, take a look of this collaborative blog that writes permanently about Iranian attractions of literature, poetry and everything!


I have heard that the air line Oasis has collapsed could you confirm this?

Posted by David Wright | Report as abusive

Dear Editors,

I read a somewhat distorted story about Obama being criticized for comments he made in a recent speech. The editor who wrote the title of the story distorted the story. He failed to mention that the criticizms came from predictable sources — Clinton and McCain.

The article writer did some distorting too. The reference to the changed Bankrupty Law said the Law was being “reformed”. That’s a good word to use by a phony politician or lobbyist but not a journalist writing a news story. The law in question wasn’t “reformed”. It was changed for the benefit of the Banking and Loan industries, making possible interest rates that any reasonable person would call usurious. That “reform” also made it more difficult for debtors to declare bankruptcy.
Sooo, tell me, who paid off that editor and that “journalist”?


Posted by Daniel - Scheinhaus | Report as abusive

It is not necessary for politics or nefarious outside funding to be cited as a cause for the number of blogs devoted to poetry. Persian poetry is an essential part of Persian culture and heritage. Wondering why there are Persian poetry blogs is like wondering why there are American music blogs. Of course some of it will express protest. What else is new?

I’ve spent a lot of time in Iran, including the last two years. I’ve always been impressed at how ordinary citizens quote poetry in daily conversation, and how bystanders sometimes join in (they have it memorized).

In Iran, statues of poets grace public parks, streets are named after poets, and children memorize the classics in school. Little slips of paper with quotes from the classics may be sold by street urchins or even picked out of a stack by a “fortune-teller’s” parakeet.

The lyrics of much of classical Iranian music is, you guessed it, classical Iranian poetry. The classics are great–think Omar Khayam, Rumi, the poem by Sa’adi displayed in the United Nations building in New York. It’s nice to know that blogs are displaying the new poetry continually being added to this corpus by young and old.

Posted by Ruth Wangerin | Report as abusive

The internet is changing the world of information like nothing else has ever or could ever do it. It has shut down the control of information. The effects are yet to be fully felt. Still possible to fool all the people some of the time. The internet shortens the time that all can be fooled. Will it some day stop the fooling of everyone for any period of time?


Ruth Wangerin:
Rumi was not Iranian. He was Afghan.

Posted by Zombeer | Report as abusive

the sun stood coral
a wafer
over Tehran, spreading its wings in rays
speaking to the mother, softly, saying
calm waters are equal to sand.

Posted by giselle | Report as abusive

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