Roger Sedarat

Klapper Hall 704

You can find my short CV here.

Research Interests

As a displaced hybrid (Iranian-American) creative writer and literary translator, Sedarat remains obsessed with creatively putting things where they don’t quite belong. To this end he attempts to insert his Americanist poetics background within the Persian tradition and vice versa. While continuing to write and translate on the page, his recent work tends to involve interdisciplinary performance. With the help of a large grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, for example, hIs most recent poetry collection, *Haji as Puppet: an Orientalist Burlesque* was turned into a punk play staged at the Brooklyn Music School. Like his original poetry, much of his scholarship focuses on crossings of Persian and other Middle-Eastern writing with American literature. His book Emerson in Iran: the American Appropriation of Persian Poetry (SUNY Press, 2019) is the first full-length study of Persian influence in the work of the seminal American poet, philosopher, and translator. Fusing his academic specialty in 19th century American poetry with his Iranian background and interest in literary translation, his comparative readings of Platonism and Sufi mysticism reveal how Emerson managed to reconcile through verse two countries so seemingly different in religion and philosophy.

Teaching Interests

Approach to teaching undergraduate courses: Acutely aware that most student don’t want to pursue a PhD in English, Sedarat tries to facilitate his literature courses in ways that prove applicable to everyone in his classroom, even while still modeling some of the more effective takeaways from the discipline (close reading, analytical writing, etc). The higher the degree of difficulty and/or boring the material (especially for some in his theory course), the more Sedarat tries to juxtapose it with accessible examples from daily life and popular culture. Ideally such adaptations translate into a better ability to interrogate the world. Finding much even in his own academic interests wanting for something like real insight, his overriding pedagogical obsession is trying to show students how to approach scholarship with greater creativity.

MFA approach to teaching: To quote the late great Dean Young (an early and important influence both as poet and teacher), “This isn’t a workshop; it’s a blast site.” Sadly words like “risk” have been gratuitously incorporated into the rhetoric of MFA programs to the point of becoming cliche. While in his recent performance craft class students worked with literal fire (in all genres as well as in translation), they more importantly and on their on volition risked exposing their deepest sense of themselves in their respective projects through radical experimentation. In the American tradition especially, with vestiges of Romanticism refusing to subside, for better or worse writers still must somehow go through themselves (even with all the brilliant tricks of modern evasion). To this end Sedarat attempts to facilitate an MFA classroom wherein the translator and writer feel safe enough to play with their own personal fire.

Recent Undergraduate courses include: ENG 351, Nineteenth Century American Literature ENG 301, Advanced Poetry Workshop ENG 244 Theory. Recent MFA courses include: ENG 757 Translation Workshop, ENG 761 Creative Writing and Literary Translation in Performance (Craft Class).

Selected Publications

Emerson in Iran: The American Appropriation of Persian Poetry (SUNY Press).
“ ‘The battle trumpet blown!’ ” : Whitman’s Persian Imitations in Drum Taps.” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.
“Middle Eastern-American Literature: A Contemporary Turn in Emerson Studies.” A Power to Translate the World: New Essays on Emerson and International Culture. (University Press of New England/Dartmouth College Press).

Creative Writing and Literary Translation

Haji as Puppet: an Orientalist Burlesque (Winner of Word Works Tenth Gate Prize for Mid-Career Poet)
Ghazal Games (Ohio UP)
Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic (Winner of Ohio UP’s Hollis Summers’ Prize).
The Unsaid: Nature and Nostalgia in the Poetry of Nader Naderpour (Cambria)
Poetry and translation in Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Guernica.