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Voices of the Iranian Diaspora

March 26 from 1:00 pm 3:00 pm

Sliding scale

Join us at OMCA for Voices of the Iranian Diaspora, a showcase of poetry, performance and artwork by Iranian creatives and activists in the Bay Area.

Co-hosted by Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Founder and Director of United For Iran, the event will begin with a poetry reading by Persis Karim then followed by an artist talk by Shaghayegh Cyrous who will speak about her visual, multimedia, and social practice work that addresses the multifaceted themes of immigration, displacement, cross-cultural communication, body autonomy, and current geo-political dynamics.

Mahmoudi will provide critical context setting for audiences to gain a deeper understanding of the ongoing  ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement taking place in Iran.  The historical Kurdish rallying cry ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ has mobilized the contemporary series of protests in Iran, which was sparked by the morality police’s murder of Mahsa Amini. The event will close with a music performance by Mahsa Vahdat, and a call to action table by United For Iran in the OMCA Garden. United for Iran is the only human rights nonprofit organization based in the Bay Area that is focused on civil liberties in Iran.

Visitors are encouraged to bring (or borrow) a picnic blanket to mingle and connect with others in the garden after the program concludes. The call to action table by United for Iran will be available where visitors can get resources, learn how to get involved, and donate to support the organization’s mission.

  • $1 – $30 |  Sliding scale

Program Schedule: 

1–1:05 pm – Introduction by emcee, Firuzeh Mahmoudi

1:05–1:25 pm – Poetry Reading by Persis Karim

1:25–1:35 pm – Mahmoudi speaks on context that gave rise to United for Iran

1:35–2:15 pm – Artist talk by Shaghayegh Cyrous

2:15–2:30 pm – Music performance by Mahsa Vahdat
2:30–3:00 pm – Call to Action table by United for Iran (OMCA Garden)


The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is committed to providing programs that are accessible, welcoming, and inclusive of our community. Assistive listening devices and wheelchairs are available for checkout on a first come, first served basis at the Ticketing Desk. To request other accommodations, like American Sign Language (ASL), Cantonese, Spanish or another language interpreter, please email [email protected] at least three weeks before the event.


Persis Karim

Persis Karim is a poet, editor, and serves as the Neda Nobari Chair and Director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University where she also teaches Comparative & World Literature. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature: Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian-American Writers, and, A World Between: Stories, Poems, and Essays by Iranian-Americans. Her poetry has appeared in numerous national journals such as Reed Magazine, Callaloo, Raven’s Perch, Green Linden Press, and others.

Shaghayegh Cyrous

Shaghayegh Cyrous is an Iranian-American transdisciplinary artist based in the Bay Area and recently in Los Angeles. Her work examines cross-cultural, multi-modal communications, especially highlighting the nuanced expatriate experience engendered by geopolitical shifts and their distorted notions of time and space. Commonly working with mediums such as interactive video installation, photography, and painting, she has exhibited and performed internationally at notable museums and galleries. Cyrous received her BA in Visual Art from Science and Culture University in Tehran and her MFA in Social Practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

Firuzeh Mahmoudi

Firuzeh Mahmoudi is the Executive Director of United for Iran. After witnessing the 2009 uprising in Iran, Mahmoudi organized the largest day of global support for Iran in history. Shortly after, Mahmoudi started United for Iran to improve human rights, support civil society, and increase civic engagement, mostly through technology. Previously, Mahmoudi worked at the UN and various NGO focusing on supporting communities around the world with advocating for environmental justice and health.

Mahsa Vahdat

Mahsa Vahdat is an award-winning Iranian singer, composer, and cultural activist who has dedicated herself to both her musical and artistic path, and to the greater cause of freedom of expression. Her artistry offers audiences around the globe a deep appreciation of Iranian poetry and music.

Unable to perform in her own country, Mahsa continues to interact with a diverse international audience that appreciate her art.