(written by Delaram Ghanimifard)
It was 8am 21 August, but I had lost the date and hour due to long flights from Tehran to London and then a train trip from London to Edinburgh. When I met Anahita Teymorian in her hotel room, she was the same: suffering from sleep deprivation after a 17-hour journey from Tehran. Soon after our first ever encounter, we made our way to EIBF.
The topic of the first event was Persian Translations. Ali Seidabadi and Anahita were supposed to be together in this event, but Ali could not attend and, instead, Vivian French was there to talk about the books she had retold from Arabic.
In this event, Anahita said ‘I want to introduce my country and people by my books. ّI want to say that we are not the dangerous and scary people that the media portrays of us’. Then she talked a bit about each of her English translated books. For The Clever Mouse, she said this book is ‘a mixture of old and new stories. Once upon a time someone dreams of the king’s beautiful daughter. But in our story, the beauty of the princess is her kindness’.
Anahita also talked about some details from illustrations of Bird Like Himself. She said ‘the story is about love. Once you love, you can do the most difficult things. Love gives you wings to fly. There is a clown in the illustrations and all the story is happening on his belly. The only real thing that happens is the love between the two birds’.
Thanks to Nacim Pak Shiraz who chaired the event.
A book signing followed. Anahita especially wrote a line in Persian for those who requested.
After a light lunch, Anahita’s photo was taken by photo artist Chris Close. Thank you Chris!
At 14.00 we met some of our audience in another event called The Big Draw. Children had to draw and paint a child (maybe themselves) on a sheet of paper that was given to them. The drawings were cut and marked so that when they were put together, they would make a big circle of children holding hands. The big circle of ‘Earth’ would go in the middle, and the children would become the protectors of Earth. This project was left to be completed later, due to lack of time.
Our first day in ED Festival ended at the hotel. We were exhausted.
The second day programmes, though, were not as packed. I had my breakfast and went to Anahita’s hotel. I saw Anahita at the doorstep reading her book to herself.
At the Story Box, there was a queue of small children waiting to be read to. Anahita sat on the floor and read A Bird Like Himself to the children. Then she gave them pieces of paper and crayons so that they could draw their own birdies. She drew a bird for each of them and they coloured it. Some asked her to draw other things: ‘I want a hen!’ said one child. The other said ‘Please draw a car!’
When Anahita drew the car with the bird in it for the boy, he exclaimed, ‘I love it!’
Edinburgh was a chance for us to meet other writers, translators, artists, and also those who read and like our books. Hope to have a chance to be in Edinburgh again.