In early 1950s, he became involved in anti-governmental riots, something common in Iran of those days, and was briefly imprisoned after the fall of the government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953. His first book of poems “Organ” was published in 1951.
Between 1959 and 1965, he joined the governmental work force and served as a high-school teacher and a grade-school principal. He also contributed to dubbing and/or narrating educational films, in addition to writing articles for newspapers and popular magazines.
In 1959, Sales published his “End of the Shahname,” wherein he examined some of the contemporary socio-political problems of Iran in the context of the country’s own ancient myths and legends as reported by Ferdowsi. And, a year later, he created a complementary view of the same in his “From This Avesta,” again indirectly criticizing the government. Retaliating, the government persecuted him and his followers as anarchists. Similar activities in 1967 landed the poet in Qasr prison for a short period.
After his release, Akhavan joined the Ministry of Education as well the National Iranian Radio and Television Organization.
He died in 1990 in Tehran. His tomb is in Tous near Mashhad, near Ferdowsi’s grave.
The critics consider Mehdi Akhavan Sales as one of the best contemporary Persian poets. He is one of the pioneers of Free Verse (New Style Poetry) in Persian literature, particularly of modern style epics. It was his ambition, for a long time, to introduce a fresh style in the Persian poetry.
A brief chronology of Akhavan Sales’s works:
- “Arghanun” (The Organ), 1951
- “Zemestan” (Winter), 1955
- “Akhar-i Shahname” (The Ending of the Shahname), 1959
- “Az in Avesta” (From this Avesta), 1965
- “Shekar” (The Hunt), 1966
- “Pa’iz dar zendan” (Autumn in Prison), 1970
- “Shush-ra Didam” (I Saw Susa), 1972
- “Guyand Ki Ferdowsi” (It is Related that Firdowsi), 1976
- “Darakhti Pir va Jangal” (The Ancient Tree and the Forest), 1977
- “Dar Hayati Kuchek-i Pa’iz dar Zendan” (In Autumn’s Small Yard in Prison), 1977
- “Inak Bahar-i Digar” (Now a New Spring), 1978
- “Bejang, Ey Pahlavan” (Fight on, O Hero), 1978
- “Bed’atha va Badaye’I Nima Yushij” (Nima Yushij’s Innovations and Aesthetics), 1979
- “Duzakh amma Sard” (Hell but Freezing), 1979
- “Zendegi Miguyad Amma Boyad Zist” (Life Dictates, but Life Must Go On), 1979
- “Ata va Laqa-i Nima Yushij” (Nima Yushij’s Bequest), 1983