Ms. Gray has lived and studied extensively in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Her translation work reflects her long-standing interest in the eastern Islamic world and in Central and South Asia.
Hafiz is acknowledged to be the pre-eminent poet of Iran. Throughout the Persian-speaking world his mystical love poetry is recited and sung in the bazaar; on the radio; and at familial, literary or spiritual gatherings. His Diwan, or collected works, is held in such high esteem that, like the Qur’an, it is used for divination and augury.
Poetry continues to be central to the life of Iran and Iranians. Contemporary poets fuse the imagery of their tradition with modernist innovation to speak of love, loss, theocratic hypocrisy and spiritual transformation. Ms. Gray’s translations of contemporary Farsi poetry can be found on the Blog of Little Star Journal (April 2011, a post-2009 election poem by Simin Behbahani) and in the forthcoming issue of Poetry International (No. 18) as a chapbook, "Iran: Poems of Dissent."
The life of Kesar, the divine son of Heaven who takes on human form in order to bring peace to the kingdom of Ling, is the subject of this Tibeto-Mongolian folk epic. While the story is found in a number of literary and Buddhist forms, full versions of the oral, shamanic version are rare. Ms. Gray and Siddiq Wahid are translating a complete oral Lower-Ladakhi version of the tale, originally published in Calcutta in 1905. The new version will include a translation of the epic’s prose and verse into contemporary English, with supporting introductory essays and annotations.