We’re delighted to present today an excerpt from the collection Haji as Puppet: an Orientalist Burlesque by Iranian-American poet and translator Roger Sedarat, in which he interrogates and challenges the western gaze toward the Middle East. Recently, Sedarat has received a $35,000 grant from The Atlantic philanthropies Director/Employee Designated Gift Fund to support a series of dramatic performances based on his collection, one of which will take place at The Williams Center in Rutherford, NJ, on September 5, 2018, in celebration of National Translation Month. We hope to see you there!
For over 15 years, Sedarat has been performing poetry and translation as Haji, a Persian punk persona based on the 19th century stereotypical picaresque British novel The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by J.J. Morier. The translation backstory of this novel has real relevance to Roger’s Haji project. The first translator to bring this novel into Persian actually re-appropriated some of the Orientalist depictions. To this end, with Haji, Sedarat attempts to expose American assumptions of Iran and the Middle East.
—Claudia Serea and Loren Kleinman