The deputy director of Iran’s Book City Institute, Ali-Asghar Mohammadkhani, has said that Iran and Latvia plan to bridge the gap on culture between the two countries by collaborating on publications and organizing mutual cultural meetings In a press release published on Tuesday, Mohammadkhani elaborated on his recent visit to Latvia and several agreements he signed with some Latvian cultural organizations. He was in the Latvian capital of Riga from August 22 to 26 at an invitation from the director of the Imants Ziedonis Foundation, aneta Jaunzeme-Grende, who served as the Latvian culture minister from 2011 to 2013. “Ms. Jaunzeme-Grende is a well-known person in Latvia and the EU and is really eager to expand cultural cooperation between Iran and her country,” Mohammadkhani said. “However, unfortunately, people in both countries know very little about the culture, history and literature of the other country,” he added He said that only the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Sadi’s Gulistan and Sadeq Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl” from Persian literature have so far been published in Latvian while no books from Latvian writers have been translated into Persian.
Mohammadkhani stressed on the need for mutual revision on cultural relations among Iran, Lavia, Lithuania and Estonia. Based on an agreement signed between the Imants Ziedonis Foundation and Book City Institute, several cultural meetings will be organized in the coming year. In addition, books from both Latvian and Iranian writers will be published based on a bilateral agreement. The foundation and institute also plans to translate Persian poet Molana Jalal ad-Din Rumi’s Masnavi-ye Manavi into Latvian and also to organize an international conference on Rumi in Riga in January 2019. They will also publish a collection of poems from the Latvian writer Imants Ziedonis in Persian and hold a meeting in Tehran to introduce the poet to Iranian scholars. “Ziedonis was similar in his style to the Persian poet Sohrab Sepehri,” Mohammadkhani said and added that the two institutes will organize a conference on Sepehri and Ziedonis in Tehran during spring 2019. Mohammadkhani also met Janis Oga, the director of the Mansards publishing house in Riga, and signed a contract, based on which the Book City will translate and publish 12 short stories about Riga by Latvian writers in Persian. The publisher also agreed to render and publish 12 short stories on Tehran by Iranian writers in Latvian. Photo: This undated photo shows Book City Institute deputy director Ali-Asghar Mohammadkhani (L) and Imants Ziedonis Foundation director aneta JaunzemeGrende posing with an Iranian artwork