My American Mother

For Harriet

My American Mother
by Majid Naficy

Tuesday April 1st 2008 my friend Harriet Tannenbaum passed away at age 91 in Hollywood. I met her at Ucla in 1993. She helped me with the editing of both collections of my poetry "Muddy Shoes" and "Father and Son" as well as my doctroal dissertation "Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature" as had been acknowledged in the preface to these books.

On March 20, 1997 when in celebration of Persian New Year I organized a poetry reading called "Persian Poetry in Los Angeles" in Beyond Baroque literary center, Venice, in which five Iranian poets, late Nader Naderpour, Partow Nuriala, Mansour Khaksar, Abbas Safarri and I read our poems in English, Harriet read Naderpour's poetry on his behalf in English and was much admired by him. She helped me to come at peace with my new homeland as can be seen in this poem which I wrote eleven years ago:

My American mother says,
`In the next circle of life
I want to become
A tall, shade tree.`

I look at her little body
Still upright
Leaning on her steady cane,
And her kind eyes
Shining like my mother's
In Iran,
And I know
That I want to become a bird.


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Ari Siletz


by Ari Siletz on

There is a volunteer sapling in my backyard I wasn't sure I should let grow. Your beautiful poem made me go out and water it. 

Azarin Sadegh

So moving...

by Azarin Sadegh on

Such a moving poem, and such a devastating loss!

I can totally feel your pain, since I lost also my first mentor, my first writing teacher at UCLA, Philomene Long last year. She passed away  only a few weeks after we had met, and she appeared to be so much full of life.

She was an amazing poet, and she was the one who introduced me to your poetry.

I'm sure if Philomene had believed in the "cycle of life", she would have chosen to turn into a bird (since she was already so restless, almost in fire and so passionate about the little birds who sat at the window of her home in Venice), to fly from tree to tree, from land to land.



Thank you.

by Feshangi on

She lives through you, your poetry, and others she has touched. She seems to have been a very fine human being.  May she rest in peace.