Iran, they say, is the land of poetry, and Gazal, a poem of ten to fifteen lines with special rhythmic, metric and alliterative requirements, has been the pillar of the country’s rich poetic tradition. More than anyone else in modern history of Iran, Simin Behbahani has brought about a rebirth—a renaissance—of Gazal, infusing old structures with a new emotional, aesthetic and individualized lexicon and sensibilities. She is today, by critical consensus, the grand dame of poetry in Iran. She is, to the experience of Islamic Revolution, what Anna Akhmatova was to the dark days of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. In poems that are stunning in their stylistic brilliance and innovation no less than their political honesty and daring, she has, more than any other artist, dared speak truth to power. Threats to life and limb had done nothing to deter her from her path-breaking work as a poet, and a witness for posterity. She has won many awards for her poetry, and her defense of human rights. She is the first winner of the Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom.