“I Will Write”—Homage to Ángel Guinda and Mahsa Amini

15 October, 2022

In the inau­gur­al issue of Poet­ry Markaz, we present this sear­ing­ly defi­ant poem by beloved Span­ish poet Ángel Guin­da (1948–2022), who passed away ear­li­er this year.  With this poem we hon­or the mem­o­ry of Mah­sa Ami­ni, the 22 years young woman who was bru­tal­ly mur­dered by the Islam­ic Repub­lic of Iran’s “moral­i­ty police” for not ful­ly cov­er­ing her hair. Since then, her name has become like a  glow­ing ember, alive and radi­at­ing heat, and blown by the wind of dis­con­tent it has fast trav­eled across Iran and set the coun­try on fire.  Brave young women and men have tak­en to the streets. Guinda’s poem echoes their shouts that they will not be silenced.

Let us also remem­ber the nov­el­ist Salman Rushdie who was attacked by a deranged zealot on Aug. 12.  I say “deranged” because a mind twist­ed by blind devo­tion to any ide­ol­o­gy that incites vio­lence is nei­ther bal­anced nor sane.

In 1989 Islam­ic Repub­lic of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khome­i­ni, issued an edict demand­ing Rushdie’s death over his nov­el The Satan­ic Vers­es. What is dis­turb­ing is that most peo­ple who accept­ed Khomeini’s edict and blind­ly called the nov­el blas­phe­mous nev­er had read the nov­el for them­selves, nor ever won­dered why a fic­tion­al char­ac­ter in a nov­el should prompt a fat­wa against its author.

Yet Rushdie, despite all efforts to silence his pen, has kept on writ­ing fear­less­ly while vocal­ly advo­cat­ing free­dom of expres­sion for all. 

To take away any life in the name of God is to assume one is inti­mate with that Unknow­able Divine. Isn’t that a greater “sin” than mak­ing up char­ac­ters for sto­ries and call­ing them works of fic­tion, or ask­ing for our God-giv­en lib­er­ty to exist as dig­ni­fied human beings, with lib­er­ty to choose how to wor­ship, dress, and exist with­in the bounds of a peace­ful democracy?

Dear read­ers, look close­ly. God weeps behind the mask tat­tooed on its face.

                                 —Poet­ry Markaz edi­tor, Sholeh Wolpé 



Poem by Ángel Guinda


Si me qui­tan la pal­abra escribiré con el silencio.
Si me qui­tan la luz escribiré en tinieblas.

Si pier­do la memo­ria me inven­taré otro olvido.

Si detienen el sol, las nubes, los planetas,
me pon­dré a girar.

Si acallan la músi­ca can­taré sin voz.
Si que­man el papel, si se secan las tintas,

si estal­lan las pan­tallas de los ordenadores,
si der­rib­an las tapias, escribiré en mi aliento.

Si apa­gan el fuego que me ilumina
escribiré en el humo.

Y cuan­do el humo no exista
escribiré en las miradas que naz­can sin mis ojos.

Si me qui­tan la vida escribiré con la muerte.

Pub­lished in Poe­mas para los demás, Ángel Guin­da (Olifante 2009)

I Will Write 

If they take away my word,
I will write with silence.

If they take away my light,
I will write with the den­si­ty of darkness.

If I lose my memory,
I will invent anoth­er form of oblivion.

If they seize the sun, the clouds,
snatch away the planets,
I will spin in my orbit.

If they shut away the music
I will chant with­out a voice.

If they torch the paper,
evap­o­rate the ink,
det­o­nate com­put­er screens,
and smash all walls,
I will write on my breath.

If they extin­guish the fire
that bright­ens me,
I will write on the smoke.

And when the smoke is gone
I will write on visions born
with­out my eyes. 

If they take away my life,
I will write with my death.

     (trans­lat­ed from the Span­ish by Sholeh Wolpé)


Sholeh Wolpé—(Poetry Editor) Sholeh Wolpé was born in Iran and lived in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the US. She is a poet, playwright and librettist. Her most recent book, Abacus of Loss: A Memoir in Verse (March 2022) is hailed by Ilya Kaminsky as a book “that created its own genre—a thrill of lyric combined with the narrative spell.” Her literary work includes a dozen books, several plays, an oratorio/opera, and several  multi-genre performance pieces. Her translations of Attar and Forugh Farrokhzad have garnered awards and established Sholeh Wolpé as a celebrated re-creator of Persian poetry into English. Recently she was the subject of a Metropolitan Museum of Art Spotlight, The Long Journey Home. Presently a writer-in-residence at UCI, she divides her time between Los Angeles and Barcelona. For more information about her work visit her website. You’ll also find her on FacebookYouTube and Instagram.

Ángel Guindafreedom to writeMahsa AminiSalman RushdieSpanish poetry


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