October 13 – Shiraz is more than a wine; it is an ancient city in Iran and the home of the first great wine

Wednesday, October 13 – “My city is that cup of sunshine. . .”

Professor Fatemeh Keshavarz, University of Maryland’s Roshan Chair of Persian Studies, is a poet and a scholar. In September 2014, she welcomed us into our academic year by reading a poem she wrote a few days before September 11, 2001 — before she or we knew about the 9-11 attacks on New York, Washington DC and a field in western Pennsylvania. This first Monday of October, national news led with a story of a violent mass shooting in Las Vegas. It is hard not to go numb with what feels like a relentless rush of hatred carried out with precise killing weapons. Fatemeh locates that same violence in a vast universe of creative intensity and serenity. If you were not there in 2014, and even if you were, it’s worth reading again (http://danmurano.com/poetry/fatemeh-keshavarz).

Here is another of Fatemeh Keshavarz’s poems. She celebrates “Shiraz,” her home city in Iran, which has lived as a center for art and beauty for c. 4000 years. Wikipedia tells me that “The oldest sample of wine in the world, dating to approximately 7,000 years ago, was discovered on clay jars recovered outside of Shiraz.”

Detroit is only 318 years old, but I am using the poem to celebrate Motown today. The beauty of taste and the pause that good wine inspires, can help put terror in its much larger context of the human condition over centuries. Lift a glass when you get off work.

Best read “Shiraz” out loud several times, with some pauses. Have a blest day.


john sj


Held up to gods
In the palm of a giant’s hands
A rare handcrafted marble cup
Brimming with sunshine
Defined at the outer edges
With tall cypress trees
That line up at dawn reverently
To interpret the horizons
In their meticulous green thoughts

My city is
That cup of sunshine
I can drink to the last drop
And be thirsty for more.


Shiraz, Dec. 21, 2000

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