Dr. Tara Mokhtari is a Persian poet, born in Canberra, residing in New York City. Poetry is deeply ingrained in Persian culture and in the spirit of Persian people, and Mokhtari’s mother, Pari Azarmvand Mokhtari, is a world expert in Hafez. Mokhtari wrote her first poem at age 13, and a few years later, upon pausing to take a breath between the first two stanzas of Stevie Smith’s poem ‘Black March,’ Mokhtari made the conscious decision (which was likely made in and by the universe much earlier) that poetry was her life’s work. As a postgraduate student at RMIT University for both her PhD and Masters creative projects, Mokhtari wrote verse novels, which accompanied critical dissertations on modern poetry and poetics. Stevie Smith remained at the center of Mokhtari’s research during these years.
While poetry is her most enduring love, Mokhtari writes across the creative media. She was a founder and the in-house playwright of Canberra theatre company, The Nineteenth Hole (est. 2001), and was commissioned to write a play for Canberra’s preeminent independent company, Free Rain, when she was just 18. These plays earned multiple awards and nominations. Mokhtari went on to write for screen on assignment, most recently writing an original sci-fi feature film for Crick Films (Canberra) and a feature adaptation of a New York Times best-selling book for Barry Navidi (London/Los Angeles).
Mokhtari’s first collection of poetry, Anxiety Soup, was published in Australia by Finlay Lloyd Press (2013). The poems are connected thematically as snippets of daily life that shift the existential core of the speaker in some way. Mokhtari’s co-edited book of essays, Testimony, Witness, Authority: The Politics and Poetics of Experience, was published in 2013 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. In 2012 and 2011, Mokhtari edited the English translations of two books by Dr. Hashem Rajabzadeh (Rikkyo University, Japan) who is a recipient of The Order of the Sacred Treasure in Japan for his lifelong work in introducing Persian culture to Japan.
The culmination of her work—creative, scholarly, and pedagogical—is Mokhtari’s book, The Bloomsbury Introduction to Creative Writing (2015), which is now in its second edition and has been translated into Simplified Chinese. The book has been adopted by university programs in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, approaches creative writing as a form of knowledge that, for the writer, is symbiotically linked to experience.
Mokhtari is part of the wonderful faculty at CUNY Bronx Community College’s Communication Arts and Sciences department, and lives in Brooklyn with the world’s greatest cat, Malake. Mokhtari has given guest lectures at SUNY Oswego (NY), BRIC TV (NY), Victoria University (Melbourne), This Is Not Art Festival (New Castle), and her works are published in magazines and anthologies in the US, Australia, Prague, and beyond.