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Farrokhzad was born in 1935, the fourth in a family of seven children, to an overprotective, brutal mother and an indifferent military father. She was a most mischievous child and read voraciously. At 16, she was married off to a cousin, once removed. He was 31. Less than a year later her son was born. Though they lived outside the capital, Farrokhzad began traveling to Tehran and publishing poems in magazines there. She was referred to as a “poetess,” her work was printed alongside silhouettes of nude women and rumors true and false of extramarital affairs made the rounds. She got divorced and lost all but rare visiting rights with her son.

In 1955, she published her first collection, “Captive,” with lines like: “My fevered, raving poem / shamed by its desires, / hurls itself once again into fire, / the flames’ relentless craving.” She wrote combustible verses about sexual pleasure and in doing so trashed just about every known taboo about what a woman could voice, to say nothing of write, publish and publicly circulate.