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Anis Mojgani’s Radical Empathy

In conversation with the Poet Laureate of Oregon


FEB 28, 2023 | ISSUE 11

Anis Mojgani by Natalie Seebooth

Over Anis Mojgani's shoulder, a “Black Lives Rule” poster hangs in the Zoom frame. The Poet Laureate of Oregon designed it in collaboration with musician Laura Veirs and her young son (he created the initial drawing) to fundraise for the Portland General Defence Committee and other BLM organisations. With poems like “Shake the Dust” and “Direct Orders” — performed on stage with his uniquely spirited delivery — Mojgani has amassed an enthusiastic following over the last two decades. His prowess on and off stage has made him a winner of both national and international Poetry Slam competitions and the author of six books of poetry. When Mojgani talks about poetry, it takes a second to realise that he’s not describing a literary form, but a vital force. He regularly uses language related to cultivation in conversation: his sentences are rife with blossoms, stems, and roots. The Piano Farm (his website) describes the metonymic space for his endeavours. It began as a humble non-sequitur he misheard from a friend while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design. Although the initial short...