10th Annual Persian Arts Festival

Friday, March 18th, 8:30PM – 1AM

at National Sawdust, 80 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Persian Arts Festival 10 Year image

The Persian Arts Festival celebrates 10 years of showcasing the work of hundreds of Iranian American artists from around the world at the prestigious new Brooklyn venue, National Sawdust. The 10th Annual Persian Arts Festival will feature multiple art forms including short films by Iranian Americans, performances by established Persian poets, hosted and curated by Zahra Saed and Sara Goudarzi, the NYC premier of vocalist and daft player, Aida Shahghasemi, who fuses her exquisite Persian classical vocal training with indie-rock tendencies, and Mitra Sumara, a big-band of NYC-based musicians dedicated to Pop/funk music from Pre-Revolutionary Iran.

Space is limited, so we ask that you purchase tickets in advance: http://nationalsawdust.org/event/persian-arts-festival-10th-anniversary-celebration/



It is an honor to bring the Persian Arts Festival to NYC’s iconic National Sawdust, an unparalleled, artist-led venue, hailed by the New York Times as a game-changer in the way new music is presented. www.nationalsawdust.org


MUSIC PERFORMANCE by Aida Shahghasemi

Aida Shahghasemi Image

Aida, initially a Daf player, studied with Amir Samadi in Tehran, Iran. She moved from Tehran to Minneapolis in summer of 2000. One unsuspecting summer day back in Tehran, she was pushed to sing on stage by Samadi, and she fell in love with it ever since. Her passion for Persian classical music stems from the cultural identity she craved after immigrating, and the women she met during her years of study. Her senior project at University of Minnesota’s Anthropology department centered around restrictions on the voices of female classical vocalists in Iran, through which she met, interviewed, and studied with Parissa for a short period of 3 months. While residing in NYC, Aida worked with a few non-profit organizations as a teaching artist promoting the arts as a tool for social justice. She created and taught a class called Iran’s Arts Activism centered around the effects of society on art and vise versa, at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. http://www.aidashahghasemi.com/


Mitra Sumara ImageMitra Sumara is New York City’s only Farsi Funk group. This international party band gets down with the vibrant pop and funk music of 60s/70s Iran, an infectious pre-Revolutionary sound which combined the beats of Fela Kuti, salsa, and disco with Middle Eastern melodies and flowery poetry.

Interpreting hits by Iran’s beloved singers Googoosh, Pooran, Aghassi, Leila Forouhar, Nooshafarin, and Zia Atabi’s intoxicating Bandari beat tunes, Mitra Sumara’s repertoire also includes American hits of the era translated into Farsi. East meets West meets East while delighted audiences sing along.

Mitra Sumara’s musicians are among New York City’s top players in the avant-garde, jazz, indie-rock, and Broadway scenes. They include Yvette Perez (vocals), Julian Maile (guitar), Sam Kulik (bass), Michael Evans (drums/congas), Brian Geltner (drums/percussion), Bill Ruyle (hammer dulcimer), Jim Duffy (keyboard), and Peter Zummo (trombone).

Mitra Sumara is the creation of Brooklyn-based half-Iranian lead singer Yvette Perez. Adopted and raised by American parents, Yvette founded the group after studying Farsi and re-uniting with her Iranian birth father just four years ago. This cross-cultural music project is inspired by her family story.

Mitra Sumara has played the John F. Kennedy Center Millenium Stage as well as New York City venues including Le Poisson Rouge, Brooklyn Bowl, WestBeth, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center and Café Nadery, and the Tropicalia Club in Washington, DC.


Curated by Zohra Saed and Sara Goudarzi, this segment of the program will bring poets, authors, scholars of both Iranian and non-Iranian descent together in celebration of Spring, renewal, and rebirth.

Fayre Makeig PhotoIn 2010 Fayre Makeig received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant for a selection of Hushang Ebtehaj’s free verse. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children, two and under, and supports family as a line editor of banal bureaucratese and academic claptrap. She loves spring.


Angelo Verga Photo


Angelo Verga has been widely published, translated, and anthologized. A former owner of, also longtime literary curator at The Cornelia Street Cafe, Verga has helped to promote poetry as a​​ popular and much-needed art form. His seventh book of poems is Long & Short, including The Street in Your Head (2016) and is available on Amazon.



Sahar Muradi PhotoSahar Muradi is a writer and performer born in Afghanistan and raised in the U.S. / is co-editor, with Zohra Saed, of One Story, Thirty Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature / is co-founder of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association / has published in Drunken Boat, dOCUMENTA, phati’tude, Green Mountains Review, elsewhere literary magazine, Bone Bouquet, and The Poetry Project Newsletter / is a Kundiman Poetry Fellow, an AAWW Open City Fellow, and twice recipient of the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award in Poetry / has an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, an MPA in international development from NYU, and a BA in creative writing from Hampshire College / directs the poetry programs at City Lore / and believes in the bottom of the rice pot.

Ravi Shankar Photo


Ravi Shankar is an award-winning poet, editor, translator and professor of writing who founded the international online journal of the arts Drunken Boat, and has published or edited 10 books and chapbooks of poetry. His most recent collection is “What Else Could it Be: Ekphrastics and Collaborations.”


Soraya ShalforooshSoraya Shalforoosh’s first collection of poetry, This Version of Earth was published by Barrow Street in November 2014. Soraya has been a featured poet in the Journal of the Academy of American Poets Emerging Poet Series, and has had poems and reviews in Tribes.org, Good Foot, Taos Journal, Barrow Street, Skanky Possum, Bomb Magazine, Marlboro Review, WSQ, Can We Have Our Ball Back.com, Shampoo Poetry, Brink: An Anthology of Post Modern American Poetry, Four Corners, Salonika, etc. Soraya has her MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and as an undergraduate at Clark University, won first place in the Prentiss Cheney Hoyt Poetry award. Ms Shalforoosh has been a Writer in Residence at William Paterson University in NJ, a guest poet at Berkeley College in New York, guest speaker at the American Embassy in Algeria. Soraya has performed her poetry with jazz, blues and world music bands in clubs, universities and Central Park.


Short films will be presented that reflect the Iranian heritage, family history, and commemorate our widely celebrated holiday, Norouz.

  1. “Current”

By Nika Khanjani

This short experimental uses re-photography onto black and white 16mm film which was then hand processed (very rough and stinky process using buckets of chemicals and film reels dunked like tangled spagetti in a makeshift darkroom), then digitized for online editing.
I originally called this film Current Landscapes because it was an honest reflection of my inner emotional landscape at that time.
I have chosen to call my film Current Landscapes because it refers to the inner landscape that exists in each of us, simultaneously particular and universal. Like any study of a landscape, looking at the inner geography requires time, patience, and a steady gaze so that what is subtle and easily overlooked is given significance. This piece is about the excavation and search for memories, images, sounds, impressions and tones that inform who we are. While these memories are of things past, they remain current because they are present in us all the time. Just because we may not remember does not mean that they do not exist. It is simply our choice whether we will sit still long enough to recognize their presence and let them surface in whatever form they exists.
I have chosen to use re-photography of my own family as a method of exploring these landscapes. I spent a great deal of time with a number of photographs that evoked memories of my childhood. I filmed them then hand processed the film in order to create the scratches you see. These scratches are meant to create distance between the viewer and the image, a veil of sorts, because these images are phantom-like, as memories sometimes seem to be. Just out of reach, below the surface, seemingly of another world. To express this visually, I allowed the photos to begin obscurely and out of focus. This represents the initial moments of remembering things from the past—–they are not very clear at first but, with time, may become clearer. The scratches that were the result of rough hand processing added to the visual effect of separation and distance in that even when memories and impressions from our past become clearer, they are still evasive and just out of reach.


  1. “Even Gray Feels Blue”

 By Negin Sharifzadeh

No one speaks;
Nothing to say;
Nothing to teach.

Silence is truly the best speech!
– Poem by Ahmad Shamlou, Translated by: Maryam Dilmaghani

“Even Gray Feels Blue” investigates the nature of melancholia and solitude, translating these most intimate and deeply personal feelings into their aesthetic essences. The echoes of the individual move into collective realities. Sorrow becomes social malaise.

The film avoids the structure of story and narrative, built instead as a musical composition, creating an ambiguous psychic space for the viewer to enter. The images have been created in conversation with a composition, The last Turn, by the Iranian master Oud player Negar Bouban, based on “Shabaneh,” a poem by Ahmad Shamlou. Even Gray Feels Blue edited and composited by digital master Harold Moss. Both music and image utilize repetition to create a trance-like dynamic, intensifying the emotional resonance by tapping into memories as individual history and an act of collective remembrance.


  1. “Norouz (نوروز) – Songs of Pardis”

By Negar Behbahani & Saloomeh Sayah

From the Album: Songs of Pardis

Vocals by Hani Niroo
Song written by Negar Behbahani
Arranged and mixed by Salmak Khaledi
Produced by Pardis for Children, Inc.

The most important symbol of Norouz is Sofreh Haft Seen (Haft Seen table setting).
Haft Seen or seven S’s represent the main elements of the sofreh.
Each element has a meaning and is a symbol of what we wish for ourselves, our family and our friends in the new year.
The Seven Symbols
Senjed: Silverberry, symbol of love
Samanoo: Sweet Wheat Pudding, symbol of affluence
Somagh: Sumac (red spice), symbol of patience
Seer: Garlic, symbol of good health
Serkeh: Vinegar, symbol of wisdom
Sabzeh: Sprouts, symbol of growth and rebirth
Seeb: Apple, symbol of beauty

  1. “Imagine Native”

Director: Mina Bozorgmehr & Hadi Kamali Moghadam
Producer: Hadi Kamali Moghadam & Mina Bozorgmehr
Screenwriter: Hadi Kamali Moghadam & Mina Bozorgmehr

This short documentary fiction, tells the legend of Love between man and fairy. It is a journey to the depths of the beliefs, imaginations, and magic of the people from South of Iran, Hormoz island, the land of thousand-colored sands. This short film is the story of a southern artist, called Mousa, who collects the worn out leg-covers of native women from the washed out rubbish on the shore and puts them together to make tableaus that lay the groundwork for a modern legendary story. It has been told that there was a tradition in the past, where Island people would offer the clothes of a dead person to Mother Sea, so she could cleans that person’s soul and …

Imagine native, is a prelude to a longer documentary fiction, called \”Janbal\”, which is in the process of being edited.

  1. Cycles of Lambent Frequencies”

By Negin Sharifzadeh

Animists recognize the spirit of life in every object—a blade of grass, a stone, a brick in a wall. In every nook and cranny,against every wall, life finds its way towards growth and transformation. In this installation, I am taking advantage of light and the technology of projection mapping to reveal to our eyes this magic inside nature in all its manifestations. The sort of magic one imagines transpiring in a clearing hidden deep in the woods, late at night when no humans eyes are there to witness, is instead seen on a wall in SoHo.

A stone face of some ancient deity hangs on a brick wall in the darkening evening. Suddenly, the eyes open. Light flows from her mouth. All the seasons of the year break out at once, sped impossibly up. Green things grow from below. Leaves fall and are blown about. The eyes look around, taking in this explosion of life. Mythic images layer on top of this great fecundity. The light and sounds from all this activity are thrown from the wall to the space around, encapsulating the viewers within this magical place.

As in nature, no sooner is this frenzy reached, then it begins to recede. New growth falls back into the earth. Leaves settle and are absorbed. The eyes grow sleepy, and the light begins to fade. Sleep overcomes the wall, and darkness returns, only to begin the cycle again.