GOLSORḴI (GOLESORḴI), ḴOSROW (b. Rašt 1322 Š./1943; d. Tehran, 1953 Š./1974; Figure 1), poet and revolutionary figure whose defiant stand during his televised show trial, and subsequent execution by firing squad in 1974, enshrined his place in the cultural and political history of modern Persia.

Golsorḵi was born into a provincial family with strong ties to the Tudeh Party of Iran (Ḥezb-e Tuda-ye Irān; see COMMUNISM ii). He lost his father in early childhood and was raised in the household of his maternal grandfather, a cleric in the city of Qom. After the death of his grandfather in 1962, he moved with his mother to Tehran where he had to earn a living while studying for his high school diploma. In the early 1960s he began contributing to Tehran’s daily papers including Āyandagān, Eṭṭelāʿāt, and Keyhān, but most of his mature writings and poems were published towards the end of this decade in influential literary and cultural journals such as Negin and in the leftist periodicals Sahand, Arg and Čāpār. In 1969 he married Āṭefa Gorgin, a poet and journalist. Golsorḵi named their son Dāmun, a Gilaki word meaning “forest sanctuary,” in memory of the Jangali movement of 1917-1921. His collected prose and poetry were published posthumously after the 1979 Revolution (Gowharin, pp. 7-8, 199; Samākār, pp. 260-62.)

In the latter half of the 1960s, opposition to the government and the ruling establishment intensified, instigated partly by an increasing malaise among the intellectuals and partly by the concurrent prevalence and attraction of revolutionary stances in the international arena. The Algerian, Cuban, and Vietnamese struggles as well as radical student movements in Europe and in both North and South America had a great impact on the intelligentsia of the third world, including Persia. The closure of channels for voicing critical views, culminating in the suppression of the Association of Writers (Kānun-e nevisandagān-e Irān) in 1349 Š./1970, drove the young activist elements of the intelligentsia further towards the two major radical guerrilla groups, the Marxist-Leninist Fedāʾīān-e Ḵalq and the Moslem-Socialist Mojāhedin-e Ḵalq (Behrooz, pp. 51-54; Abrahamian, pp. 81-145). Golsorḵi’s poetry and theoretical writings on literature and art, deeply immersed in this highly charged atmosphere, was read by the young radicals, broadcast on the radio stations of the revolutionary groups, and beamed to Persia from the Socialist Camp. This brand of literature was later called “guerrilla poetry"(šeʿr-e čeriki) (q.v.) and “poetry of the forest"(šeʿr-e jangal), with the latter having a direct reference to the first guerilla uprising of Fedāʾiān-e Ḵalq in the Siāhkal forests near Rašt in February 1349 Š./1970 (see COMMUNISM iii; Talattof, pp. 66-134; Samākār, pp. 260-62). The exact degree and details of Golsorḵi’s own involvement in underground political activities remain unclear.

Golsorḵi was arrested in the early days of 1352 Š./1973. Some months later, while he was in prison, the government announced the arrest of a group of eleven individuals for allegedly plotting to kidnap a member of the royal family. The group was composed of writ-ers, poets, and filmmakers, including Karāmat-Allāh Dānešiān, Moḥammad-Reżā ʿAllāmazāda, Ṭayfur Batḥāʾi, ʿAbbās-ʿAli Samākār, Manučehr Moqaddam Salimi, Iraj Jamšidi, Mortażā Siāhpuš, Farhād Qayṣari, Maryam Etteḥādiya, Ebrāhim Farhang-Rāzi and Šokuh Farhang-Rāzi (Mirzādagi). The government announced that Golsorḵi also belonged to the group (Keyhān havāʾi, 6 October 1973, p. 1).

It appears that the alleged plot and the arrests were stage-managed by SAVAK to conceal its failure to detain the popular Fedāi’s leadership, whose hit and run subversive activities in the early 1970s were perceived as a major threat to the regime. Later it became apparent that those arrested did not belong to a single cohesive group and that some of them were not even personally acquainted with each other. The appeal trial of the group took place in a military court in late 1973 and early 1974, and the proceedings were broadcast on national television. The SAVAK attempted to use the court hearings to demonstrate its success against the guerilla movement, having already used torture to prepare the defendants to confess to their alleged crimes and seek pardon. Some of the defendants “confessed” to charges for which little evidence had been produced and sought a royal pardon. But the first five refused to confess, even though they had apparently undergone extensive torture (Behrooz, 1999, p. 70; Samākār, pp. 172-73; Keyhān-ehavāʾi, 19 January 1974, p. 1; Eṭṭelāʿāt 23, 23, 24 January and 17 February 1974, p. 1).

In their defense speeches, Golsorḵi and Dānešiān went even further and used the televised session to criticize the regime and to call for radical and revolutionary changes on Marxist-Leninist lines. While Dānešiān’s defense was more subtle, Golsorḵi’s was fervently revolutionary in its tone and delivery. He defended his Marxist stance by recalling that he had learnt the first lessons of revolution by following the example of the first Shiʿite Imam, ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb, and his son, the Lord of Martyrs, Imam Ḥosayn. The unexpected tirade by both defendants was finally stopped by the military judge. They were executed in January 1974, having signed their last will as “People’s fedāʾi” which literary meant “a devotee of the people” but could also be taken as an allusion to their sympathy for the Fadāʾiān-e Ḵalq guerrillas. However, there is no clear evidence that the two, or any other member of the group, had any direct connections with the highly secretive organization.

As far as the quality of his poetry and his theoretical writings about literature and art are concerned, Moḥammad Šams Langarudi, the writer of a detailed analytical history of modern Persian poetry (IV, p. 3760), sums up Golsorḵi’s contribution in these words: “The most influential incident in the arena of guerrilla poetry was the execution in 1974 of Ḵosrow Golsorḵi, the famous poet and writer. He was neither a great poet, nor an acute journalist, and not even a knowledgeable literary critic and researcher. But he was a consistent, sincere, and emotional revolutionary who, by delivering his impeccable defense of the deprived masses at the shah’s military court, sacrificed his life for his beliefs.”

Golsorḵi’s unmarked grave in the Behešt-e Zahrā cemetery near Tehran, discovered by the leftist revolutionaries in 1978, became an immediate rallying point for their political gatherings. He remains a martyr for the leftist popular fronts to this day.



Ervand Abrahamian, Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin, London, 1986.

Maziar Behrooz, Rebel With A Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran. London, 1999.

Ḵosrow Golsorḵi, Biša-ye bidār, ed. Majid Rowšangar, Tehran, 1374 Š./1995.

Idem, Dast-i miān-e dešna o del, ed. Kāva Gowharin, Tehran, 1375 Š./1996.

Idem, Ey sarzamin-e man (collection of poems), ed. Kāva Gowharin, Tehran, 1373 Š. /1994.

Idem, In rasm-e to’st ke istāda bemiri (collection of poems and literary and theoretical writings), Tehran, 1357 Š./1978.

Idem, Siāsat-e šeʿr, siāsat-e honar, Tehran, 1351 Š./1972, 2nd ed., 1357 Š./1978.

Kāva Gowharin, Preface to Ḵosrow Golesorḵ, Ey sarza-min-e man, Tehran, 1373 Š./1994. pp. 1-10.

Bozorg Ḵażrāʾi, ed., Āḵerin defāʿ-eḴosrow Golsorḵi (a selection of Golsorḵi’s poems and theoretical writings), Tehran, 1359 Š./1980.

ʿAbbās Samākār, Man yak šureši hastam:Ḵāṭerāt-e zendān wa yādbud-eḴosrow Golsorḵi, Los Angeles, 2001.

Moḥammad Šams Langarudi, Tāriḵ-e taḥlili-e šeʿr-e now IV, Tehran, 1377 Š./1988.

Kamran Talalattof, ThePolitics of Writings in Iran: A History of Modern Persian Literature, Syracuse, 2000.

(Maziar Behrooz)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 14, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 2, pp. 118-119