07/10/09 - 7:10pm
by Chas Danner

Poem for the Rooftops Suite

Lost in the 24 hour struggle to launch The Rooftop Project was the news that I had finished the first and final Poem for the Rooftops of Iran by YouTube user Oldouz84. I titled it Defenseless People. While it is already featured as the June 16th entry on The Rooftop Project, here it is again by itself so it gets the extra special attention it deserves. As with the June 20th video, I had the help of several Farsi speakers who’s translations I have woven together. Below the jump are the other two “Poems” so that all three are now viewable together for the first time. Also, you should know that “Oldouz84″ did not write these in advance but rather invented them spontaneously in the moment each time, something I find remarkable.

Three weeks ago I’m embarrassed to admit I could not have pointed to Tehran on a map. Now I have mastered highly focused YouTube searches in written Farsi and yesterday even got the point where I took issue with the New York Times for doubting the date of a video I had uploaded. (Like a geometry proof, I cited location, crowd makeup, and careful analysis of hundreds of other videos)

Since June 18th when I opened my YouTube account, my uploaded videos have received a combined 468,554 views. Most of these clips I found in other places and converted to YouTube so they would easier for Nico @ HuffPo to share. Almost all of them show terrible violence that I feel absolutely no pride in associating myself with. But of the footage to make it out from Iran, and I have seen almost all of it, I believe these “Poems” are the most important. Violence may have an easier time capturing our attention, but art is always more powerful at providing the resonance we need to understand and remember. These three videos capture the beating heart of this moment in Iran, and I feel truly fortunate to have been able to play any small part in making sure they are more fully seen.

7/12 UPDATE: There is a fourth video from June 22nd! Coming soon!!

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3 Responses to “Poem for the Rooftops Suite”
  1. Thank you for sharing this. Tyrants don’t readily give up their power. The people of Iran deserve a better fate than to hide their aspirations for the freedom to at least be heard without fear of repression. Is it any wonder that the Basij have even been trying to track down the people who dare to chant their please to Allah in the night, in order to silence them?

  2. susan says:

    this is one of the most beautiful and moving things I have seen around the iran elections. you are right, the power of art stays with us more than mere images can. thank you for putting this together.

  3. Chad says:

    It’d humbling and compelling to see how people join together across communities, globally and locally, to fight injustice and its terrors. Your work has given access to what’s happening in Iran at a personal level, and I will find a way to teach about what’s happening in Iran this summer come August so that my students have a chance to see how what we do as individuals matters and how people can drive history for justice, near and far. And though I know you don’t want the attention, it’s humbling and compelling to learn about this from a someone from back in the day. Thank you.

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