Roza Ferdowsmakan, an Iranian-born writer  and Assistant City Attorney for the City of Phoenix, Arizona, has just been selected by Finishing Line Press–an award winning small press publisher–to have her first chapbook of poetry, entitled: Strangers in the Skies of the Dead.

Having moved from her home in Tehran, Iran to the United States in 1978, before the Iranian Revolution, Roza hasn’t been back to Iran since.

Over the past 25 years, Roza Ferdowsmakan has contributed to city newspapers as a teen correspondent, served as a news reporter and columnist for her high school newspaper, been awarded the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism Scholarship and written for the Arizona State University newspaper, served as managing editor of the literary journal for the local chapter of the International English Honor Society, contributed as a feature writer to local magazines, and has had a variety of her award-winning poems published.

More recently, Roza has been concentrating on children’s literature and children’s poetry, while working on an organic line of children’s clothes. Sold at Arizona-area Whole Foods Markets, the clothing line will feature Roza’s poetry.

Enjoy our quick Q&A with the accomplished Iranian-American woman:

PEM: Persians have a rich tradition of poetry. Has any of that poetry influenced you?
RF: I have enjoyed Persian poetry, as well as English poetry, and have been influenced by both. On the Persian side, I have been influenced by the harmony and tranquility of spoken poetry. It is like a dance in which the dancer gets swept up by undulations of imagery and meter. On the English side, I have been influenced by the confessional style of Anne Sexton and the sensuality of Anais Nin and Pablo Neruda. I have been told that my poetry most closely resembles the style of William Carlos Williams, although I did not come upon his poetry until after I had already established my writing style.

What would you consider your writing style?
Confessional and observational. I’m interested in my own memories of people and experiences, as well as imagined memories.

Who is your favorite author?
Shel Silverstein. He is amazing.

When do you like to write?
Late at night or while on vacation – whenever I can find a little time to myself without interruptions.

Can you share an excerpt from one of your favorite poems?
Yes, of course. This is an excerpt from my poem Mirrors All Mine:

Two thinly bodies
of glass frame the walls
in a queen-looking room
big as mother’s
where I breathe
and exhale
every foreign grain male.
Mirrors spy.

Who would you love to meet?
If he were alive, Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet. He had such a sensual and seductive way with words.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
To fulfill your potential and not to be afraid of obstacles or challenges along the way.

How does your work as an attorney influence your writing and how does your writing influence your work as an attorney?
I have not felt or seen any cross-over or influence from my practice of law to my writing of poetry or vice-versa. I think the two are on different playing fields and perhaps consciously, perhaps unconsciously, I have chosen to keep them separate as they encompass two very different parts of me.

What is the hardest part of being a lawyer?
Working in a very conservative field–doesn’t promote much creativity.

What is your favorite food?
I’m a big foodie and so this is a very difficult question for me to answer. My palette is accustomed to lots of different flavors and textures. But if you twisted my arm to give you an answer, I’d say that in Persian cuisine, my favorite food would be Fesenjoon, made with duck. I love gamey foods like duck, rabbit, pheasant, and goose.

What makes you mad?
Manipulation of the democratic process and brainwashing of the ignorant masses by right wing ideologues.

If you were allowed one book, one meal, what would it be?
The book would be One Hundred Years of Solitude and the meal would be comprised of crusty European bread, an assortment of cheeses, prosciutto, figs, olives, and a full-bodied red wine.

What is your greatest regret?
That I didn’t join the Peace Corps after undergraduate studies.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Living with my husband and our children in a stone farmhouse in Tuscany, where I would have my own vegetable and herb garden, and I could write all day long.

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