Alamtaj or Jaleh Qaem-Maghami, poet and writer, was born in Farahan on February 20, 1884, and passed away in Tehran at the age 63 on September 28, 1947. Her father, Fat’hollah Qaem-Maghami, was the great grandson of Qaem-Maghami Farahani, the famous minister, writer, and poet of the Qajar dynasty.
Jaleh Qaem-Maghami began schooling when she was five and learned to read and write in Farsi and Arabic. She studied the literary works and poems of famous Iranian poets.
When Jaleh was only 16 years old, something unpleasant happened to her: she was forced to marry a 40-year-old semi-illiterate man named Ali-Morad Mir-Panj. The marriage was more a political one and a consequence of financial misfortunes of Jaleh’s father, Fat’hollah Qaem-Maghami.
Jaleh Qaem-Maghami and her husband had different personalities and belonged to different social cultures. The result of the short marriage was a son named Hossein Pejman Bakhtiari who later became a renowned poet.
Hossein Pejman Bakhtiari describes his parents’ marriage as such: “My mother was starting her youth and my father was ending his. My mom was into literature and poetry and my father was in wars and conflicts. My mother did not care much for money, but my father was interested in wealth. My mother walked from school into the family life and my father from the war fronts. My mother was expecting love, understanding and intimacy but my father was expecting an obedient housewife who valued her husband.”
When their son was only one-year-old, Jaleh Qaem-Maghami decided to take a divorce and move back to her parent’s house. As long as he was living, Jaleh’s ex-husband prevented her from seeing their son. When her ex-husband died, Jaleh Qaem-Maghami was able to reunite with her son who was 27 years old at the time. They lived together the rest of her life.
The hardships and challenges of Jaleh’s life, including missing love from her husband and inability to see her son, impacted her emotions and were reflected in her sad poems and writings.
Expressing her pain and her feelings about missing her son through sad poetry had become her only refuge. She wrote about her personal problems, womanhood, and her suffering.
Her poems were not published in her lifetime and some say she destroyed her works because the society did not tolerate poetesses. Her son accidentally discovered and collected a fraction of her works after her death. Even that small collection includes more than 900 lines of poetry.
The works of Jaleh Qaem-Maghami focus on common stereotypes and anti-women traditions and her protests against them. Her work can indirectly be described as an autobiographical effort reflecting on the tragedies of her life.
She died in 1947 when she was 63 years old and was buried in Imamzadeh Hassan cemetery in Tehran.