Mahvash Sabet, a schoolteacher and mother of two, is also one of seven Baha’i leaders in Iran imprisoned for, according to the Ministry of Intelligence, espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. What they are really being imprisoned for, however, is their faith. Being Baha’i in Iran is akin to apostasy, a crime punishable by law. Sabet and the other six Baha’i leaders incarcerated with her in Evin Prison are serving a 20-year sentence.

Sabet was the first of the seven to be arrested, on March 8th, 2008. Security officials invaded her home and took her into their custody, without charges. She was accused of being a spy for Israel. Eight years later, while still in prison, Sabet has written and published a book of poetry, “Prison Poems”. British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili, who was a student of Sabet’s, helped launch the book in London early June. In an interview with the Telegraph, Djalili said:

“These poems are a real positive statement of defiance; they are saying ‘we’re not victims, we’re not going to buckle’. From a feminist angle it’s interesting how they refuse to have any kind of victim status.”

The poems are lyrical “snapshots” that capture the everyday torment and malaise of life in a women’s prison, anguished contemplations of incarceration and its effect on the body and soul.


Loneliness engages, in its subtext, a discussion on religious persecution and intolerance. The greatest loneliness of all, writes Sabet, is when “no one understands you”. In very few words, Sabet is able to relay the grief that imbues Baha’i life in Iran.


Lights Out

These previews courtesy of Pete Hulme. The book is available for purchase at Amazon.