Lethe | An ode to oblivion & pain

letheSimply because this was one of the most intensely significant experiences of my life, I thought about sharing parts of it with you.

The journey began back in 2013 with constant echoes of these thoughts: What is movement? Do I know my body? Do I belong to this realm? Why am I doing this? What are we all trying to achieve? Is this a need or perhaps just another way to be?

My first inspiration for movement was the Greek myth of Poseidon. Coming from the world of Literature, I had already countless images from the God of the Sea and the dark world he’s associated with. I delved into this world of darkness and duality and it was already too late to detach from this Underworld of “concealment”.

The next assignments was to delve into dark moments of my childhood, to dig deep through the repression, touch upon the complexes and experience these notions through movement. At the time, the intention behind it all was simply to be part of this fascinating world that is expression through embodiment, but then came severe moments of ache and outflow of mindful pain. This felt so intense on my soul and I knew, if I were to keep moving in this path, I needed to remain aware, alert and awake.

Days passed by, weeks, bruises, months (twenty one to be precise!)

What happens to us when we go through such long periods of creative engagement in a piece that deals with so much darkness? A gloom that is projected from the reality of our actual dailiness; our daily life. This was on my mind time and again throughout the intensity. Were we simply reflecting the shadows or were we at least retaining some light, some shimmering hope?

The piece faced rejection last January when it was performed it in front of the jury that decides on permissions for Fajr International Theater Festival where we had initially hoped for the show to premier. I can just recall a certain feeling of awe and emptiness when this occurred. For us not to be able to share this extensive process with an actual audience after a little under two years of constant effort in communicating something that needed to be communicated was extremely discouraging and like a wet slap in the face.

We had to take all the pain, all the repression which was already out, back inside, down to the Underworld where it had come from and put a lid on it all for god only knew how long. To repress the repressions was a rather challenging experience. There was a one year gap in which many things happened; people’s paths diverged far from that of one another as well as from Lethe and we became victims of the forgetfulness we had started with; only this time, the object had become us.

When I got a call from our director, Atefeh Tehrani, about the possibility of the show going on the most renowned theater venue of Tehran (City Theater of Tehran) late summer, I had a very hard time saying yes to still being part of it. I was not sure if I would want to go through the pain once more and re-live those emotions and let them flow through my limbs for over 30 consecutive nights! You see, in Tehran when you do a show, you do it for at least one month.

This meant, 30 nights of exposing some of the most intricate wounds of childhood to a general public, hoping for healing powers in drama to nurse these wounds and transfer the positive through the pain. It ultimately became a state of being, an intention for movement.

There were other aspects to this project which made it impossible to say no to, despite the severe mental and physical pressure which it entailed. The fact that it was a particularly “physical” piece that normally doesn’t make it to a public stage in Tehran would be number one.

The fact that this director had not been able-due to circumstances-to create for over 5 years and that this made Lethe a great contribution to the avant-garde presence of drama in Tehran was number two.

The fact that THIS is considered a certain point in a certain collective map in a certain timeline is number three.

And last, the fact that a collective mind had put their souls, sweat and blood in creating something which had been imagined at some point, by the same collective mind and needed to live its life.

Lethe became a resting place for all the tension, tears and trouble. The forgetfulness helped me remember that there are so many reasons to stay alive and live among the living. I no longer feel forgotten nor forgetful.

Lethe helped me remember.

January 2017


Your thoughts of thanatopsis-
Exuberance, fatigue,
Go gather in a bundle; many-toned.

On a day-not far from this-
Hoist it unfurled-
A thousand-colored, many-pieced sail.

Set out to the sea, Ulysses.
To the wind and-
Sail away.

Move with the wind and Lay.
Make love with the wind and sow.
Stay with the wind, Give all!

Let the breeze-
Be sieved in through your cells,
Leave you absolutely light.

Upon the surface-
Of the ocean.

No fear,
No death,

For barefoot were we born;
In every bivouac-

To our pain,
Our deprivation,
Our love and to our tears.

Each time-
Emerges a new air,
Man afresh.

To walk with death-
With none of dread.
Shamelessly disrobed.

December 2015

Composed in Farsi by Minoo Abtahi, Recreated in English by Sina Saberi


The monster is my friend,
Byronic hero is my love,
All filth I can behold;
And desires I can quench.

My sympathy for lust,
This schizophrenic love,
All tendency for bile-
Feels far from bizarre.

Eccentric is my name;
I’ve accepted me that way.
Except for one or two-
Of my many many selves.

I’m the liar whom to eyes-
Of yours does lie with ease.
I’m the angel who has wings-
You can’t see; it’s very dark.

I’m a thief, your trust I steal-
The moment that you blink.
I’m the masked man-
A plentiful of masks!

I’m selfish as narcissus,
And lonely as a cloud-
Whose fate is buried deep-
In Poseidon’s darkened realm.

I’m the magic that there is;
In drops of blood & waxing moons.
I’m the ominous attendant-
Of this epoch of beguile.

This life of mine, this lie-
It’s time I threw in fire.
This me on end I’ve dragged-
It’s time I dropped and died.

It’s a legacy of awe,
Forgetfulness of fish.
It’s piracy of hope,
It’s not real, nor is it not.

July 2015


These stories-
Have been told.
Let’s not forget.

These questions-
Have been asked
Though truly-
Never answered.

Much lie-
Has been told;
And retold-
And believed.

The eyes-
Have deceived,
Been deceived,
Looked away.

Have been read,
Beread and-

Yet have ached;
Been pained-
And paroled.

The story-
Has been told.
Of love-
In hearts of gold.

They laugh-
And they scorn;
What they-
Haven’t ever known.

It’s not-
For everyone to feel;
Even though-
It’s very simple.

You may feel-
Or have it ample.
You might falter-
And be gone.

Inner balance-
Shall be practiced.
Something new-
That I can preach?

Keep it real.
Oh what a sentence!
It deludes,
Only deludes.

We don’t truly know-
Each other,
One another-
And ourselves.

We are strangers
We’re unheard of,
We are aliens,

You don’t know me.
You don’t know you.
I know nothing.
We know none.

Maybe one thing-
In common-
Have we all…
Collective truth?

That fact that-
We need peace.
The truth beneath-
The promise.

The tale that-
Love is real.
Even though-
It does beguile.

Is that something that’s-
Been told?
Or retold?
Or never told?

Autumn 2017



Time to leave
A distant promise

Holding thoughts of-
What there was

Clinging not to-

What there was-
It merely was

A candle though in awe
I see fire, searing sun

Our meeting place was-
The cobweb

Interwoven threads
Of one

It shrinks right now
It fades

Drooping in the skies
‘We sag’ you say, we hang

We float in flowy matter
One touch, we fly away

It’s real though
Is it not?

The promise of-
The touch.

It burns though
Does it not?

Oozing fires-
Of the sun.

April 2015


Restless spirit
To me engaged

Silent kisses
Seeing to it that
I drown.

Passing moments
Never stay there
Only fade.

Countless visions
Taking all that which
Is theirs.

A fading promise
Failing efforts that

Grueling demons
Feeding on
My life.

Are you not?
Do you feel like-
You are gone?

Listless Whispers!
Minutes, Dreams…
Faith in Monsters,
Can you breathe?

February 2015

Beneath our Eyes

The mountains look upon us
On this very dreary day

I have just returned from Mars
My soul still in pieces

The peaks in many layers
Taking glances, very still

They know our very secret
Every secret we have hid

The sun is just a moment
That does linger while it shines

It shines beneath your look
A look of null; a look of awe

I try with all my being
Holding in what needs depart

An ache of misery redundant
A trace of life, but so defiant

The solar of your eyes
Meets the mars beneath my glimpse

The tears of every sorrow
That I’ve shed forever more

It’s the mystery of tears;
Of fears, of fading hope

It’s pain beyond the stars
That has gathered in one soul

You look at me; I stare
No longer do I feign

A burst of something rare
A bliss that comes from love

We cry, we shed; we look
We can no longer delude

You’re silent, very still
So very fragile and spare

I brush away my tears
I look this pain away

To the mountains very far
To the cosmos far beyond

You keep looking, seeking more
Of this realness of a sight

You’ve no words though to describe
This moment of your life

You lay silently
And live.

November 2014