Project Description

Esmail Khoi


Esmail Khoi is a patron of Exiled Writers Ink! He is a major voice of the Iranian Diaspora. Born in 1938, he was educated in Iran and England and returned to his country as a lecturer in philosophy. In the 1960s and 70s, he was opposed to the monarchical state in Iran, and in his poetry he advocated revolutionary change for his country. After the Iranian revolution of 1979, however, he found himself faced with an even more oppressive system of government. In the early 1980s, as a leading member of the intellectual opposition to clerical rule, he spent close to two years in hiding before fleeing his homeland. Over the last decade or so, he has emerged as a most articulate chronicler of life in exile, and a fierce defender of political freedoms and human rights the world over. Khoi’s poetry bears eloquent testimony to his experience and thought, and to his lifelong quest for a more humane world. He has published over thirty books in Farsi with selections in English translation including: ‘Edges of Poetry’ and ‘Outlandia: Songs of Exile’.

Poems translated by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak and Michael Beard

The Lyric of the Dark Woman

Woman of dark
and dawn-soaked epiphanies
summed-up in her eyes –
Woman of the cold
and vernal blossoming all in her soul.

Woman of the snow
and all summery things in the milk white of her breasts
and, oh
the sunshine that is me
on the icy white apex of melting, ah
the sunshine that is me
joyously drinking in her summeriness.

On the tall body of the gazelle, ah
the lion that is me.
On the flowing waterfall of nectar, oh
the wayward bee
that is me.


I wake up.

there’s the sun
but not on the shoulder of Mount Alborz.

On the table
the empty ring from a coffee cup
next to it
the cold cup of loneliness
filled with the black coffee of sorrow.

Eulogy for Esmail Khoi: A great poetic voice of exile

by Dr Jennifer Langer
Founding Director Exiled Writers Ink

It is too far too soon to say ‘I remember’ Esmail, but when I think of him, the image I have is of a restless, insatiable rebel, of a man who was always kind, caring and modest despite his great stature as a poet…read more >